PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A facility promised to bring more than 300 jobs and wind turbine blade “finishing” manufacturing to Portsmouth will no longer be happening.
The Port of Virginia confirms the estimated $280 million-plus project that was first announced in 2021 was nixed by the Germany-based Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy.
In a statement, Siemens Gamesa spokesperson said the decision was made after “development milestones to establish the facility could not be met.”
Dominion Energy, the state’s largest energy provider that is planning the largest offshore wind farm to date in the U.S., says the news does not inhibit their project.
Former Gov. Ralph Northam announced the project to much fanfare in October 2021, saying it would bring not only more than 300 new jobs to the region, but would included an added investment for buildings and equipment at the Portsmouth Marine Terminal.
While Siemens Gamasa did sign a lease agreement with the Port for 90 acres that sits South of MLK Freeway South, right before the entrance into the Midtown Tunnel, Joe Harris, a spokesperson for the Port of Virginia, said they did not exercise their option to renew.
The news may be considered a crushing blow as the Portsmouth Marine Terminal is trying to become primary logistics center for Mid-Atlantic’s growing offshore-wind energy industry.
Just last week the the Department of the Interior gave its formal blessing to Dominion Energy’s 2.6 gigawatt Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind commercial project that will install 176 wind turbines about 27 miles off the Virginia Beach coast.
Siemens Gamasa, based in Germany, was selected as the project’s preferred turbine supplier in 2020. At the time Dominion Energy said Siemens Gamasa was selected “as the optimal supplier based on a combination of cost, performance, and proven track record as one of the world’s leading suppliers.
Jeremy Slayton, a spokesperson for Dominion’s wind energy project, said the partnership is still ongoing.
“We were disappointed to hear that the blade facility has been cancelled. But in regard to our Costal Virginia offshore wind project it remains on time on budget. So this news in no way impacts our project.” Slayton said.
Slayton added the blades will be manufactured in Europe and shipped to Virginia.
Siemens Gamasa, as well as the larger renewable energy industry has faced a rough few months.
On June 23, 2023, Siemens announced it was withdrawing its profit guidance for fiscal year 2023 due to a “substantial increase in failure rates of wind turbine components” at newly acquired Siemens Gamesa.
Last week Ørsted, the Danish wind energy developer said this week it’s scrapping its Ocean Wind I and II projects off southern New Jersey due to problems with supply chains, higher interest rates and a failure to obtain the amount of tax credits the company wanted.
Doug Smith, president and CEO of the Hampton Roads Alliance, the overarching economic development organization for Hampton Roads said he doesn’t think the announcement will be a death blow.
“As the offshore wind industry shifts its focus from Europe to the United States, changes in the scope of emerging projects brings with it changes in supplier demand,” Smith said. “Just last week, however, Dominion was granted approval to build the largest offshore wind farm in America off the coast of Hampton Roads. In addition, the City of Norfolk was awarded a $39 million grant to work with the Miller Group to turn Fairwinds Landing into an offshore wind logistics facility. These announcements put Hampton Roads in a better position than ever to serve as America’s East Coast offshore wind logistics and manufacturing hub and to create thousands of jobs over the next decade.”