Wind turbine manufacturer and project developer Gamesa has suspended its plans for an offshore wind project off Virginia. Gamesa had sought permits to install a prototype 5 MW turbine and supporting infrastructure about 3 miles offshore in Chesapeake Bay, but ultimately chose a site off the Canary Islands off Africa instead.
What led Gamesa to pull out of the Virginia project – and does it suggest a larger trend? Headquartered in Spain, Gamesa Corporación Tecnologíca, S.A. focuses its business on the design, manufacture, installation and maintenance of wind turbines. With 34 production facilities in Europe, the U.S., China, India and Brazil, Gamesa has produced turbines totaling over 24,100 MW of installed capacity, deployed primarily at onshore sites.
Gamesa is a fairly large player in the international terrestrial wind market, with 2011 consolidated revenues in excess of 3 billion euro ($3.81 billion) and a net profit of 51 million euro ($64.8 million).
In early 2011, Gamesa subsidiary Gamesa Energy USA, LLC and Virginia-based Huntington Ingalls Newport News Shipbuilding proposed to install and operate a single 5 MW offshore wind turbine generator prototype, off Virginia’s Eastern Shore near the southern tip of the Delmarva Peninsula. The project was designed to test and demonstrate Gamesa’s G11X wind turbine generator, which would have been installed on a steel monopole tower about 3 miles southwest of Cape Charles Harbor.
In January 2012, Gamesa submitted a Virginia Standard Joint Permit Application (145-page PDF) for a coordinated project review by a variety of federal, state, and local agencies. In its application, Gamesa touted the project’s benefits, principally the value of providing a research and development platform for the development of larger, fully marinized turbine generators. Gamesa also pointed to local economic benefits: direct jobs from the project, plus indirect benefits ranging from economic activity providing services to project workers and even tourism related spending.