A Spanish wind turbine maker announced Wednesday it would partner with Newport News Shipbuilding to develop offshore wind technology, creating 40 engineering jobs in the Hampton Roads area.
The arrangement between Gamesa Corporacion Tecnologica and the Northrop Grumman Corp. shipyard calls for the companies to cooperate on the launch of an offshore prototype in the United States designed specifically for marine use.
The news was greeted by Gov. Bob McDonnell and advocates of wind energy as a promising development in Virginia's quest to develop an offshore wind industry.
"This partnership will mean new jobs for our citizens, and it places Virginia at the forefront of the developing offshore wind industry in this country," McDonnell said in a statement. "This is exactly the kind of project that is critical to making Virginia 'The Energy Capital of the East Coast.' "
Oceana, an environmental group and wind power proponent, said the agreement between the defense contractor and the technology company illustrates how "many sectors can benefit from working together to enable the necessary transition from dirty fossil fuels to clean energy."
Virginia and other Mid-Atlantic states have shown increased interest in developing offshore energy, creating a coalition to pursue that end and working with U.S. interior officials to speed the process of granting offshore wind leases. The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico closed the door on a planned oil and gas lease sale off Virginia in 2011.
An Oceana study released last week concluded offshore wind power in Atlantic waters could supply nearly half the current electricity generation of the East Coast and create up to 200,000 jobs or more.
In Virginia, McDonnell has promoted wind energy as part of his overall vision to make the state an East Coast energy titan. Advocates have said the state's powerful offshore winds and warm-water port would be ideal platforms on which to build an offshore wind industry, including the manufacture and fabrication of huge towers and turbines.
The Virginia announcement came on the same day the nation's first offshore windfarm signed a 28-year lease with the federal government. Cape Wind Associates LLC is located off the Massachusetts' coast.
In a news release, Gamesa said it is teaming up the Northrop Grumman because of the shipyard's expertise in "heavy load logistics" and marine-based technologies. The Newport News shipyard is the lone builder of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers in the U.S.
Dirk Matthys, Gamesa's U.S. CEO, said in a statement said the Northrop Grumman partnership will allow the company to test its technology "on a short-term horizon" and demonstrate its commitment in the North American market.
The shipyard-Gamesa team will perform all the preliminary work and testing before installing the wind turbines.
The Daily Press of Newport News also reported the agreement.
Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding: http://www.sb.northropgrumman.com/