Old Dominion University awarded $775K research grant for offshore wind solution

Norfolk

Two of the offshore wind turbines have been constructed off the coast of Virginia Beach, Va., Monday, June 29, 2020. Two wind turbines are part of an offshore wind turbine project. The turbines will begin operation in August. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Old Dominion University was recently awarded a $775,000 grant from the Department of Defense to continue research efforts on offshore wind technology along the Virginia coast.

“This award comes at a time when a coordinated approach for all things maritime is more important than ever,” Old Dominion President John R. Broderick said. “I am proud of all of our researchers as we balance the economic opportunities of our maritime economy with the realities of national military security and our responsibility to protect our natural resources.”

The grant is set to help develop and implement a wind energy solution that will alleviate the effects of “location decisions on military training, readiness, and research,” during both offshore and onshore wind projects.

The research project’s principal investigator will be Tom Allen, ODU professor of geography, and coordination efforts will be led by Jerry Cronin of ODU’s OpenSeas Technology Innovation Hub. 

“The grant will combine the University’s strong capabilities in wind energy and geographic information systems, along with the entrepreneurial business development expertise of the Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship to create a sustainable solution that extends beyond the life of the grant,” Cronin said.

Governor Ralph Northam announced the grant on September 30 saying, “As clean energy continues to grow rapidly across the Commonwealth, it is becoming increasingly important that we work together to mitigate any impacts on our military installations and the adjacent communities.” 

“Virginia is home to valuable land and air assets that are vital to our economy, and the training and readiness of our service members. This federal funding will support new resources to help ensure renewable energy development is mutually beneficial for all stakeholders,” he continued.

Last year, Old Dominion University established an offshore wind task force to help with preparations as Dominion Energy works to build a 220-turbine wind farm 27 miles off the Virginia Beach coast. Once complete, the $7.8 billion project would be the largest offshore wind farm in the country.

In the past year, the task force has won a total of $1.8 million in external funding to focus on offshore wind research efforts.

“We have amazing research faculty to exploit our offshore wind locational advantage we enjoy at ODU,” said Paul Olsen, ODU’s executive director for programs and partnerships.

Olsen said George Hagerman, senior project scientist with ODU’s Coastal Center for Physical Oceanography, leads a team of nationally recognized offshore wind project scientists. 

“I’m really honored to be working with George Hagerman – he has amazing energy,” Olsen said. “His work with Dean Ben Stuart (of the Batten College of Engineering & Technology) has led to powerful collaborations across the University and the broader community.”

Olsen, Hagerman and program specialist Rema McManus lead the region’s 200-member offshore wind task force — which has representatives from industry, academia, nonprofits, and government, with a shared goal of leveraging Virginia’s natural geographic and supply chain advantages to become a national leader in offshore wind research and development.


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