Natural Resources

Tiny Country May Beat Virginia to the Wind Power Punch

Sep 24, 2015

This week, Dominion Virginia Power said it still hoped to build a couple of wind turbines off Virginia Beach.  The federal government has promised more than $50 million for planning and construction, but the utility could only find one company willing to build the demonstration project, and it wanted far more money than the firm was willing to pay.  Dominion says it will seek a new round of bids early next year.

Meanwhile, a tiny country in Europe is on track to build 150 wind turbines off its coast.

Negotiating Solar

Sep 21, 2015

Supporters of solar power are gearing up for another fight with one of Virginia’s big electric utilities – hoping to block a proposed program that could make solar more expensive. 

Four engineers from Virginia Tech have beat 72 other teams to win a place in the federal government’s Wave Energy competition.  Eric Paterson , George Hagerman, Mike Philen and Heng Xiao  now have the chance to win $2 million to build their design which would turn wave power into electricity.

Another Virginia team chose not to enter the contest.  Instead, they’re hoping to leapfrog the competition by installing a successful commercial wave farm in Europe.  

Marine Mammals and Fish Befriend Offshore Turbines

Aug 13, 2015

 Conditions off the coast of Virginia are ideal for construction of offshore wind turbines, but scientists see a limited role for marine energy – power generated from waves, currents and tides. 

That’s because prevailing winds on the planet blow from west to east, creating bigger waves on the west coast of continents.  Still there is some potential here, and experts say turbines can likely be placed off our shores with minimal risk to wildlife.  

West Coast Waves Promise Clean Power

Aug 12, 2015

This month, the U.S. Department of Energy will choose twenty semi-finalists in a contest to design devices that can harvest the power of ocean waves. Ninety-two teams of inventors have applied for more than $2 million, and four of them are from Virginia.

When it comes to wave power, Oregon’s coast is a hot spot.  Belinda Batten directs the Northwest National Marine Renewables Center in Corvallis.

“The waves are always bigger on the west coast of continents, because the waves are created by the wind, and they’re flowing from the west to the east.”