by Mary Reid Barrow
Here are some fun facts and figures about the wind turbines off Virginia Beach, thanks to Captain David Wright, Justin Fuller and Google.
The two wind turbines are 27 miles offshore.
Aboard Captain David Wright’s deep sea fishing boat, “High Hopes,” it took us about an hour to zoom out to sea for a visit that was well worth every ounce of time it took. Breakfast scones and drinks, thanks to my gracious hosts, Jo Ann and Buzzy Hofheimer, was icing on the cake!
The turbines are about 600 feet above the water, taller than any building in Hampton Roads. From top to bottom, they are about 800 feet tall. I had the sensation that I had, as a child, looking up the Empire State Building for the first time, yet this was in the middle of the ocean off Virginia Beach!
The turbines were completed in 2020 and are the test turbines for a wind farm of about 175 turbines to be completed in 2026.
Called the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project, the wind farm is the only one in the United States owned and operated by an electric utility, Dominion Energy.
When completed, the wind farm will supply power to more than 650,000 homes.
The wind farm is the largest offshore wind project in the United States.
The lower part of the turbines is painted yellow to indicate to mariners that the towers are a structure and not a navigational buoy, according to the Captain David Wright.
The underwater steel structures are becoming like ocean reefs. They have attracted algae growth and other sea life including mussels. Smaller fish have arrived to feed on the tiny critters and the smaller fish are attracting bigger fish.
For those of us who worry about bird strikes, the wind farm is not in the normal migratory path for birds. Radar is installed to trigger a brake to slow down the blades when a bird approaches. In addition, strike sensors are in place to record when a bird does strike. So far that has not happened, according to birder Justin Fuller, who was on a team that surveyed the area before construction and post construction.
The turbines are designed to withstand wind, waves, and temperatures higher than anything recorded in this area.
The wind farm is predicted to prevent as much carbon dioxide emissions in the air as removing 1 million non-electric cars from the road each year would do.