Offshore wind turbine prototype approved in Virginia

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has voted unanimously to approve proposed construction of a 479-foot-tall, 5 MW offshore wind turbine generator prototype in the lower Chesapeake Bay, three miles off the coast of Cape Charles, Va. The construction of the prototype turbine is scheduled to be completed in late 2013, which could make this project one of the first offshore wind energy prototypes in the U.S.

The project now requires approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and review by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The proposal was submitted by Gamesa Energy USA, which is partnering with Huntingon Ingalls Newport News Shipbuilding to develop and test new offshore wind technologies that will reduce the cost of wind power.

The purpose of the project is to advance the demonstration of Gamesa Energy USA LLC's new offshore WTG technology, the G11X, specifically designed for deployment in offshore wind environments worldwide. The expected design life of the prototype turbine is expected to be 20 years or more.

The information collected by the construction and operation of this prototype will help to perfect this new technology for worldwide commercial market deployment by 2015, through testing and validation to ensure optimal performance characteristics and reliability are met.

Although the project is just one single wind turbine generator and is not principally intended as major energy supply source, an added benefit of the prototype will be the production of up to 5 MW of clean, renewable wind power to the local Virginia transmission grid for public use.

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