Global wind giant Gamesa is building an offshore wind turbine prototype in Spain instead of Virginia, citing U.S. regulatory conditions.
The Spanish company won Virginia regulatory approval in March to construct the 479-foot wind turbine prototype off the Eastern Shore near Cape Charles. It partnered with Newport News Shipbuilding, and about 80 engineers have been developing the turbine in an office park in Chesapeake.
In a news release on the company’s website, Gamesa said its decision to build instead near the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa “freezes the offshore prototype project in Virginia.”
The Chesapeake research facility “will wind down at the end of the year as the design of the G11X (five-megawatt) offshore platform is completed,” according to the statement.
“The decision is disappointing,” said Doug Stitzel, Newport News Shipbuilding’s vice president of energy programs in a separate release. Stitzell nevertheless said the shipyard is well-positioned to work with energy companies to design and build complicated parts that can withstand harsh environments.
“We look forward to future opportunities for collaboration with Gamesa and other alternative energy leaders,” Stitzel said.
In the statement posted Monday, Gamesa said its decision of where to put the prototype was driven by a weak American market for offshore power and U.S. regulatory conditions.
Gov. Bob McDonnell has touted the project in the past as an important step in developing wind farms in waters off Virginia. He said Monday in a statement that his administration has made progress by speeding up Virginia’s regulatory process and Virginia.
“The fact is, Virginia and Gamesa did their parts,” he said, “but this project will not move forward due to the ongoing lack of a true national energy policy, and a global market that has become more difficult for offshore wind in the past few years.”
“That is disappointing, and it demonstrates why there is still not a single offshore wind turbine currently in existence in the United States,” he continued.
McDonnell, however, said he’s still committed to make Virginia “home to the nation’s first offshore wind turbine.”
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