How Many Wind Farms Are In Virginia?

How many wind farms are in Virginia?

Wind power is one of the fastest growing renewable energy sources in the United States. Wind farms are groups of wind turbines that harness wind energy and convert it into electricity. There has been significant growth in wind power capacity across the country, with over 122 gigawatts installed as of 2020.1 Recently, there has been growing interest in developing wind farms in Virginia to tap into the state’s wind energy potential.

What is a Wind Farm?

A wind farm, also known as a wind park or wind power plant, is a collection of wind turbines used to generate large amounts of electricity through wind power. Wind turbines convert the kinetic energy in wind into mechanical power, which is then converted into electricity.

Wind farms consist of many individual wind turbines, usually dozens or hundreds, over a large geographical area. The turbines are connected to the electric power transmission network. Tall towers, usually over 200 feet high, are used to support the rotors and generate electricity at stronger wind speeds farther above the ground. The rotors contain blades, usually three per turbine, that range in length from 150-260 feet across. As wind blows past the blades, they spin around a horizontal axis. This rotational energy gets converted by a generator into electricity.

Wind farms are typically built in open areas with strong, steady winds, like plains, hilltops, and offshore. Onshore wind farms may cover hundreds of square miles of land. Offshore wind farms are built in bodies of water, usually less than 200 feet deep, and connect to land via underwater cables. The generated electricity feeds into the grid for distribution.

Overall, a wind farm harnesses wind energy and converts it into usable electricity through many coordinated wind turbines working together. The scale of a wind farm allows it to produce utility-scale amounts of renewable, clean energy.


Benefits of Wind Farms

Wind energy provides numerous environmental, economic, and energy benefits compared to conventional sources like coal, natural gas, and nuclear power plants. According to the U.S. Department of Energy[1], wind power produces no air or water pollution because no fuels are burned. Wind farms thus help combat climate change by displacing fossil fuel electricity generation and reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

The financial benefits of wind power include long-term, stable pricing since fuel costs are zero. This helps protects consumers from the price volatility of fossil fuels. Wind farm projects also provide new sources of income to rural communities through land lease payments to farmers and local taxes. Lastly, wind energy diversifies the energy supply and reduces dependence on imported fuels.

The inherent advantages of wind power include its abundant, renewable supply and rapid deployment at competitive costs with conventional energy sources. Modern wind turbines can also provide 20-25 years of electricity service. Overall, wind energy delivers sustainable, pollution-free electricity while creating jobs and improving energy security.

Current Wind Farms in Virginia

As of 2023, Virginia currently has no utility-scale onshore wind farms in operation. However, the state recently approved its first two offshore wind projects off the coast of Virginia Beach (Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Farm Gets Federal Approval).

The Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project was approved in October 2023 and will be developed by Dominion Energy. It will consist of 176 wind turbines located 27 miles off the coast and have a capacity of 2.6 gigawatts, enough to power up to 660,000 homes. Construction is expected to begin in 2024 and be completed by 2026 (Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Farm Gets Federal Approval).

A second offshore wind project called Kitty Hawk Offshore Wind was also approved in October 2023. This project by Avangrid Renewables will have 121 turbines and a capacity of 2.5 gigawatts. It will be located 24 nautical miles off the coast of Corolla, North Carolina but will feed into Virginia’s power grid. Construction is slated to start in 2024 and finish in 2027 (Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Farm Gets Federal Approval).

Currently, these are the only two utility-scale wind energy projects approved for development in Virginia. However, they represent a major expansion of wind power for the state and a shift towards renewable energy.

Wind Energy Potential in Virginia

Virginia has significant wind energy potential, especially offshore. According to Virginia Tech [1], Virginia has the potential to generate 734,073 megawatts of wind power capacity if all viable wind resources were utilized, with the majority coming from offshore wind. The state has over 5,000 square miles of offshore wind areas with strong wind speeds capable of generating over 1,500 gigawatts of electricity, which is enough to power hundreds of millions of homes [2]. Virginia’s coastal location and relatively shallow waters off the coast make it well-suited for offshore wind projects.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Virginia ranked 28th in the United States in installed wind capacity in 2020, with just 35 megawatts [3]. However, the state has set renewable portfolio standards that will drive growth in coming years. There are currently no utility-scale wind projects in operation, but the Virginia offshore wind commercial leasing area has potential for up to 2,000 megawatts of offshore wind capacity.

Recent Wind Farm Developments

Virginia has seen significant growth in wind farm projects and proposals in recent years. The largest development is the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project by Dominion Energy. This offshore wind farm will be located 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach and is expected to generate 2,600 megawatts of energy when fully complete in 2026, enough to power up to 660,000 homes.

Dominion Energy started construction on the first phase of the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project in 2020. This initial phase, called the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Commercial Project, will have 176 wind turbines and produce 12 megawatts of energy. It is expected to be completed by the end of 2023.

There are also several onshore wind projects proposed or in early development in Virginia. Some examples include the Rocky Forge Wind project in Botetourt County, expected to have up to 25 turbines, and the Blue Creek Wind project in Pulaski County, which has proposed up to 17 turbines.

Challenges to Wind Farm Growth

While Virginia has immense potential for additional wind farms, there are some challenges that need to be addressed for the industry to grow further in the state. Some of the key obstacles include:

High upfront costs – Constructing wind farms requires major capital investments upfront. The typical cost is around $2.5 million per turbine, not including transmission infrastructure and other soft costs like permitting and financing. This can deter investors and project developers.

Transmission infrastructure – New wind farms need connections to the electric grid, but Virginia’s onshore transmission system was not built with large amounts of renewable energy in mind. Upgrading the grid will require coordination and major investments (Virginia Mercury, 2023).

Permitting and siting – Getting approval for wind projects involves navigating federal, state and local regulations. The permitting process can take several years. Turbines also need to be sited carefully to minimize impact on wildlife, aviation, radar and local communities.

Public opposition – Some local residents have opposed wind projects over concerns about views, noise and property values. Addressing community concerns early on is key for successful wind farm development.

Offshore challenges – Floating offshore wind technology is still new and faces challenges like salt corrosion and storms. However, Virginia’s approach has kept Dominion’s offshore project moving ahead (Mercury, 2023).

With thoughtful planning, investment and community engagement, Virginia can overcome these obstacles and continue expanding its wind energy portfolio.

Government Incentives

The state of Virginia and federal government offer various incentives to support the growth of wind farms in Virginia. Some key incentives include:

At the state level, the Virginia Department of Energy offers the Clean Energy Manufacturing Incentive Grant Program that provides financial support to manufacturers in the clean energy sector, including wind energy (source). There is also the VirginiaSAVES Green Community Program that provides rebates on energy efficiency upgrades to residents (source).

Federally, the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) provides a 30% tax credit for wind farms that begin construction by the end of 2025. Wind farms that begin construction afterwards are eligible for a 26% tax credit (source). The USDA also offers grants and loan guarantees to support rural wind farm projects.

Future Outlook

The future looks bright for continued growth of wind farms in Virginia. The state has set ambitious offshore wind goals, aiming for 5.2 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2034 (Dominion Energy, 2023). The Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project is slated for completion in 2026 and will provide enough clean energy to power up to 660,000 homes. By 2030, projections estimate Virginia will have over 16 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity online (E&E News, 2023).

The state offers incentives for renewable energy development and has invested in infrastructure improvements to support offshore wind. This includes an offshore wind turbine testing facility, maritime port enhancements, and workforce training programs. With declining costs and improving technology, wind energy in Virginia is expected to continue rapid growth in the coming years and decades.

There is still work to be done to build out the transmission infrastructure to bring offshore wind energy from the coast into the grid. However, the state is committed to supporting the expansion of wind farms and capitalizing on Virginia’s immense offshore wind potential.


In this article, we explored the growth of wind energy in Virginia in recent years. Virginia currently hosts only two utility-scale wind farms, accounting for 375 megawatts of capacity, but the state’s wind energy potential is enormous. Offshore wind in particular presents a major opportunity for renewable energy development in Virginia in the coming years.

The renewable energy sector in Virginia continues to face some challenges, including policy and regulatory hurdles, high costs compared to more established energy sources, and public opposition in some communities. However, the state government has implemented incentives like the Virginia Clean Economy Act to encourage the growth of renewable energy. Significant new investments and developments are planned for the near future.

Wind energy offers many benefits for Virginia’s economy, environment, and communities. As Virginia strives to diversify its energy mix and meet renewable energy goals, wind farms will likely play an increasingly vital role in years ahead. With thoughtful policies and planning, Virginia can maximize its world-class wind resources for the benefit of all.

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