Which Type Of Energy Is A Renewable Resource Found In Virginia?

Which type of energy is a renewable resource found in Virginia?

Renewable energy is playing an increasing role in Virginia’s energy portfolio. Renewable energy comes from naturally replenishing sources like sunlight, wind, water, plants, and geothermal heat. Unlike fossil fuels, renewable energy sources are constantly replenished and will never run out. Some of the major benefits of renewable energy include reducing air pollution, creating jobs, diversifying energy supply, and lowering dependence on imported fuels. Virginia has significant potential for growth in renewable energy from sources like solar, wind, hydroelectric, biomass, and geothermal. This overview will examine the leading types of renewable energy found in Virginia.


Virginia has significant solar energy potential due to its location in the Southeastern United States. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, Virginia ranks 20th in the nation for solar energy potential, with the capability to generate up to 32.4% of the state’s electricity from 28,500 MW of solar panels (Solar power in Virginia, n.d.).

There are currently several large-scale solar installations operating in Virginia. As of 2021, Virginia had over 1,800 megawatts of installed solar capacity, enough to power over 250,000 homes (Solar Power in Virginia, n.d.). Some of the largest solar facilities in Virginia include the Spotsylvania Solar Energy Center (240 MW), Amazon Solar Farm (180 MW), and Scott Solar facility (125 MW) (Solar power in Virginia, n.d.).

To incentivize solar development, Virginia offers several financial incentives for residential and commercial solar installations. These include state solar tax credits, solar renewable energy certificate (SREC) programs, solar leasing programs, net metering, and various rebate programs offered through local utilities (Solar Power in Virginia, n.d.). According to the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE), over $235 million in public funding has been allocated for renewable energy programs in Virginia (Solar Power in Virginia, 2022).


Virginia has promising wind resources, especially in the western and coastal regions of the state. According to WindExchange, Virginia’s average annual wind speed is around 15.7 mph at 80-meter hub heights, making it viable for utility-scale wind energy development.

Currently, Virginia has two operational wind energy projects – the Rembras Wind Energy project in Botetourt County and the Laurel Mountain Wind project in Randolph County. These projects have a combined capacity of 80 megawatts.

To incentivize more wind energy development, Virginia has renewable portfolio standards that require the state’s largest utilities to get 15% of electricity from renewable sources by 2025. The state also offers additional financial incentives like property tax exemptions and sales tax exemptions for wind energy facilities.


Hydroelectric power comes from flowing water – Virginia has significant hydroelectric potential from its rivers and streams. According to the Virginia Tech Virginia Energy Plan, over 16% of Virginia’s utility and non-utility generating capacity comes from hydroelectric plants. Major facilities include the Gathright Dam on the Jackson River in Alleghany County, which has a capacity of 5 MW.

Virginia has further potential to expand hydroelectric, especially micro-hydro projects on existing dams and conduits. The state has over 2,700 dams that could potentially support hydroelectric generation. With the right investments and policies, Virginia could continue growing its renewable hydroelectric capacity.


Geothermal energy refers to the heat generated and stored underneath the Earth’s surface. While Virginia does not currently have any electrical power plants using geothermal energy, the state does have potential for future geothermal development in certain areas.

According to the Virginia Tech VEPT website, the western part of the state contains “hot springs and warm water from deep formation waters.” https://vept.energy.vt.edu/renewables/geothermal_energy.html Virginia has around 20 thermal springs with temperatures ranging from 60-106°F, mostly located in the Appalachian valley and ridge province. The Virginia Energy website also notes the potential for geothermal heat pumps in Virginia. https://energy.virginia.gov/geology/Geothermal.shtml

While geothermal resources in Virginia may be limited compared to other renewable sources, targeted development of geothermal systems could provide sustainable energy benefits for the state in the future.

Biomass Energy

Biomass refers to organic matter that comes from plants and animals and can be used as an energy source. Some examples of biomass include wood, crops, waste and garbage. Biomass contains stored energy from the sun. When it is burned, it releases this energy as heat that can be used to generate electricity.

Virginia has abundant biomass resources that are used for energy production. Some of the most common biomass feedstocks in Virginia include:

  • Forest residues such as wood chips, bark, branches, tree tops, leaves
  • Agricultural residues like peanut shells, sugarcane, cotton gin trash
  • Urban wood waste from municipal landfills and construction sites
  • Animal manure and other organic waste

According to the Dominion Energy, several of their coal-fired power stations in Virginia have been converted to generate renewable biomass energy. These include the Altavista, Hopewell and Southampton power stations. The company sources biomass fuel from sustainable forest management and waste removal activities.

Overall, biomass offers a renewable and low carbon alternative to fossil fuels. With proper sustainability practices, it can provide clean energy while supporting agricultural economies in Virginia.

Benefits of Renewable Energy in Virginia

There are numerous environmental and economic benefits to developing renewable energy in Virginia.

Environmental Benefits

Renewable energy sources produce little to no global warming emissions, which helps protect the environment and reduce air pollution. Increased use of renewables will help Virginia meet its climate and emissions reduction goals. Unlike fossil fuels, renewables do not pollute the air, land or water. Renewable energy development can also help conserve Virginia’s natural resources.

Economic Benefits

Investing in renewable energy creates jobs and spurs economic growth in Virginia. The renewable energy industry provides employment opportunities in manufacturing, construction, operations, maintenance and supporting services. Local economies benefit from new investment, tax revenue and land lease payments from renewable projects. Renewable energy development attracts large companies to Virginia looking for clean, sustainable power. Money spent on fossil fuels leaves the state, while investments in in-state renewable resources keep energy dollars in Virginia’s economy. Renewable energy buffers customers against volatility in fossil fuel prices.


While renewable energy has many benefits, there are also some challenges to overcome. Two major challenges are the high upfront costs and the intermittency of some renewable sources.

Many renewable energy technologies require high initial investments. For example, installing solar panels or building a wind farm can be very capital intensive upfront, even though the long-term operating costs are low.1 This can make financing renewable projects more difficult compared to fossil fuel options.

Additionally, some renewable sources like solar and wind are intermittent – they generate energy only when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing. This variability can be challenging to manage on the electric grid. Energy storage solutions like batteries can help smooth out renewable generation, but add even more upfront costs.2

Future Outlook

The future for renewable energy in Virginia looks bright. According to the Commonwealth of Virginia’s 2022 Energy Plan (https://energy.virginia.gov/energy-efficiency/documents/2022_Virginia_Energy_Plan.pdf), Virginia has set a goal to produce 100% of electricity from carbon-free sources by 2050. The plan lays out strategies to rapidly scale up solar, onshore wind, offshore wind, energy storage, and energy efficiency over the next 15 years.

Recent predictions also show strong growth for renewable energy in Virginia. Dominion Energy’s 2022 Climate Report (https://www.virginiamercury.com/2023/01/06/dominion-energys-climate-report-confirms-the-future-of-power-is-renewable/) confirms that solar energy alone is expected to provide 40% of electricity by 2040 in Virginia. With ambitious renewable energy targets, favorable policies, and increasing cost-competitiveness of technologies like solar and wind, Virginia seems poised to continue rapidly increasing its renewable energy production over the coming decades.


As we have seen, Virginia has several promising renewable energy sources that can help power its future. Solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, and biomass energy are all available in different parts of the state. Developing these renewable resources will provide environmental benefits, energy independence, and economic opportunities.

While renewable energy development faces some challenges, the future looks bright. With advancing technologies, falling costs, and supportive policies, Virginia can tap into its wealth of renewables to build a cleaner, more sustainable energy system. Pursuing local renewable sources is key for Virginia to reduce its carbon footprint, create green jobs, and take charge of its energy future.

Similar Posts