BOEM approves Ørsted-Dominion pilot project

The Federal US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has approved the design and installation method for a pilot offshore wind project that could surge from starting with two Siemens Gamesa wind turbines to landing at 2 GW.
Photo: Siemens Gamesa
Photo: Siemens Gamesa

The first bit of Virginian offshore wind has now made it one step closer to realization. The Federal US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has approved with no additional remarks both the facility design report (FDR) as well as the fabrication and installation report (FIR) that US utility Dominion Energy submitted for its pilot project, Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW), along with project partner Ørsted.

The project's two turbines will thereby be ready for installation in the summer of 2020, Dominion informs in a statement.

"This is a significant milestone as we move forward on building the first-ever fully permitted offshore wind project in federal waters," writes Dominion Energy Vice President of Generation Construction Mark D. Mitchell in the press release.

"This process will provide key learnings we can apply to our commercial-scale offshore wind project," Mitchell adds.

The pilot project's two 6MW Siemens Gamesa wind turbines are merely harbingers of something far larger. Virginia raised its expansion target from last month from 2 to 2.6 GW in 2026, which precisely corresponds to the volume Dominion now proposes in the form of the projects with per-facility ratings of 880 MW.

Reduced cost

To render this possible, however, the price will have to plummet relative to the pilot project's costs. Here, the tariff is set to USD 0.78 per kWh for the first two units – something both Dominion and its Danish partner also take into account.

"CVOW continues to provide all involved parties valuable experience that will drive regulatory efficiencies and increased certainty that will reduce costs for future projects in the US," writes Thomas Brostrøm, CEO of Ørsted US Offshore Wind.

To what extent Ørsted will also end up playing a role in the further expansion remains uncertain yet it is highly probable it will. In 2017, the Danish utility signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with its US-based counterpart awarding Ørsted exclusive rights to draft a strategic cooperation with Dominion for further development of the area insofar as the initial demonstration turbines turn out to be a success.

US-based firm L.E. Myers began installing onshore transmission hardware in June to connect the turbines to the Dominion-owned substation. The transmission project itself is documented as being under construction and relegated to wait in the regional power grid queue while the paperwork is being settled.

English Edit: Daniel Frank Christensen

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