Virginia and a consortium of companies are collaborating on an Eastern Shore center to test and certify the next generation of large wind turbines, some towering more than 700 feet.
Called Poseidon Atlantic, the testing center announced Thursday will be based in Northampton County, which has adopted an ordinance allowing wind turbines up to 750 feet tall. The center's creators call the ordinance the most wind-friendly in the nation.
Poseidon Atlantic will create up to 25 jobs over the next two years.
Gov. Bob McDonnell called the project "transformational" for the future development of offshore wind technology because of the lack of certification facilities worldwide for the new generation of wind turbines.
Certification is necessary to attract financing for wind turbines. The center will test land-based and offshore wind turbines.
Proponents of tapping offshore winds to generate electricity say the new energy source has the potential to create thousands of jobs in Virginia. The U.S. Interior Department is expected within weeks to ask energy companies to signal their interest in leasing blocks of ocean bottom off Virginia for offshore wind development.
Two energy companies have already submitted unsolicited bids to develop wind farms off Virginia Beach.
Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling said Poseidon Atlantic has "huge potential" for Virginia because of the jobs that an offshore wind industry would bring to Hampton Roads.
"Many of these jobs are skilled positions with very competitive wages and benefits, and they would produce a sustained and long-term economic benefit for Virginia," Bolling said in a statement.
Private sector partners in the Poseidon Atlantic project include energy and technology companies Real NewEnergy, Ecofys and Fugro. Ecofys operates the largest wind turbine test and certification center in Europe.
The Virginia Port Authority, the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy and the Economic Development Partnership are the state partners.
Follow Poseidon Atlantic on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/(hash)!/VAWindProjects