Baltimore -- Virginia’s Eastern Shore is on the cusp of becoming the North American leader in the testing and certification of large offshore and land-based electricity producing wind turbines.
The Commonwealth of Virginia, Northampton County and a consortium of companies are collaborating on the project, called Poseidon Atlantic, which would be the first such test facility. According to Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, “The Poseidon Atlantic project is transformational for the future development of offshore wind technology, as there is currently a worldwide lack of facilities that are suitable for full-service certification testing of offshore wind turbine technology. October is Energy Month in Virginia, and this project reinforces that we are working diligently here to make the Commonwealth the "Energy Capital of the East Coast."
The establishment of the first-ever wind energy test facility in Northampton County is going to further Virginia’s progress as leader in the energy industry.” At an October 12, 2011 dinner for potential stakeholders, Lt Governor Bill Bolling announced the Poseidon Atlantic project and said it would create 20-25 direct jobs in Northampton County over the next two years. The growth of the offshore wind industry and all of its associated jobs over the long-term could result in the creation of 5,000-plus positions in Hampton Roads and along the Shore. “The Poseidon Atlantic project has huge potential for Virginia. If this industry takes root and matures, we could create thousands of new jobs in manufacturing, construction, logistics, operations and maintenance activities,” Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling said. “Many of these jobs are skilled positions with very competitive wages and benefits, and they would produce a sustained and long term economic benefit for Virginia.”
The Poseidon Atlantic project is a private sector initiative developed by Real NewEnergy, Fugro and Ecofys with the encouragement and support of the Commonwealth, the Virginia Port Authority (VPA) and the Netherlands’ government. The proposed facility is intended for full-service testing and certification of existing-and-next generation land-based and offshore wind turbine generators. Moreover, Poseidon Atlantic would fill a needed niche required for the development of offshore wind technology, as there is currently a worldwide shortage of locations suitable for full-service certification testing of offshore wind turbine technology. Poseidon Atlantic LLC is a joint venture between US-based Real NewEnergy and Ecofys, a subsidiary of the Dutch utility, Eneco. Real NewEnergy is a renewable energy technology firm formed to introduce and leverage Dutch renewable energy experience and capabilities in the U.S. Ecofys is the leading sustainable energy consulting firm in the Netherlands and currently operates the largest wind turbine test-and-certification facility in Europe. “The Poseidon Atlantic project perfectly illustrates the shared commitment between the Netherlands and Virginia to harness the power of wind energy. The potential long-term job creation from this initiative will build on the nearly 19,000 Virginia jobs already supported by our economic ties with Virginia” said Dutch Ambassador Renée Jones-Bos. “The commitment by such a reputable offshore wind player like Ecofys and its parent company, Eneco, sends the signal that this is the right project, at the right time, in the right place and right here in Virginia,” said Tom McNeilan, Vice President, Fugro Atlantic out of Norfolk Virginia. Poseidon Atlantic signed a contract with the Norfolk office of Dutch-based Fugro to provide engineering services associated with site location and development of the proposed test center. “Fugro’s track record of offshore wind experience in Europe, involvement with numerous proposed offshore wind projects off the US East Coast, and local presence combine to provide Poseidon Atlantic the benefit of both European experience and local knowledge that will be instrumental in realizing the vision for the certification center,” said Paul Vosbeek, founding partner of Real NewEnergy.
The development of the commercial wind turbine test center in coastal Virginia would capitalize on the unique maritime advantages provided by The Port of Virginia. Hampton Roads is well-positioned to provide marine construction, fabrication and supply-chain support to the offshore wind industry. “No other harbor along the East Coast provides the breadth of capabilities and assets that will be required as the US’s energy portfolio diversifies to include offshore wind,” said Jeff Keever, the VPA’s senior deputy executive director. “We are excited that Real NewEnergy and Ecofys have chosen our area to be the location of the first US test and certification center for offshore wind turbine generators.”
The initial phase of the project is to be developed on Virginia’s Eastern Shore in Northampton County, where a recently adopted wind farm and wind test center ordinance allows wind turbines up to 750 feet tall which is an unprecedented wind ordinance in the United States. “Northampton County is extremely excited with the prospect of being the home to the Poseidon Atlantic turbine test facility,” said Willie Randall, chairman of the county’s Board of Supervisors. “We look forward to doing our part to help the Commonwealth and the nation explore alternative energy sources. Evidence of our support for this project can be seen in the wind ordinance that was passed by the Board of Supervisors as proof of our commitment to economic growth and innovation.”