Clean Energy Summit Explores a Future without Fossil Fuels

Oct 20, 2020

Virginia hosted a clean energy summit Tuesday, offering a preview of how this state will get to a carbon-free economy by 2050.  Solar and wind energy will be important, but there are some other encouraging options on the horizon.

Turbines like these will soon be installed 27 miles off Virginia's coast.
Credit WVTF

Governor Ralph Northam opened the virtual meeting with a pledge to power our grid with 30% renewable energy by 2030 – adding more rooftop solar panels and offshore wind farms.

“I’m also pleased that the Rocky Forge wind project is still on track to be constructed in Botetourt County," he added. "This will be Virginia’s first utility-scale onshore wind project.  It will produce enough energy to power about 20,000 homes.”

By 2050, he predicts this state will no longer be burning fossil fuels, a point underscored by the keynote speaker – UVA energy economist Bill Shobe.

“It’s time to stop investing in new fossil resources," he told conference participants. "No more natural gas pipelines required, for example, to meet our needs, no new large scale fossil burning power plants.”

He predicted that in 30 years our power will also come from current nuclear plants and one plentiful fuel.

"I’ve got one word for you," Shobe teased. "It’s hydrogen. Hydrogen is going to play an increasingly important role in a decarbonized economy.”

When liquefied, hydrogen can be used to power cars, buses and trucks without polluting the air. 

Already, Northam told the conference, Virginia has become a hot market for renewable energy.

“A few months ago, the Port of Virginia agreed to lease up to 40 acres at the Portsmouth  marine terminal to Orsted, the largest offshore wind developer in the world, and just last week we announced the formation of a mid-Atlantic wind training alliance.”   

That organization will certify technicians to build and maintain turbines.