Governor McDonnell Applauds Renewable Energy Research and Development Grants Awarded to Virginia Universities, Colleges

RICHMOND - Governor Bob McDonnell today applauded Dominion Virginia Power's selection of several Virginia universities to receive renewable energy research and development funding totaling $1.4 million from Dominion Virginia Power, as part of the company's new R&D Partnership Program. The development and funding of these projects was prompted by successful legislation proposed by the Governor last session that provides utilities credit for these investments toward meeting their statutory RPS goals.

"Dominion Virginia Power is providing the seed money necessary for alternative and renewable energy research in Virginia and helping to keep the Commonwealth on track to becoming the 'Energy Capital of the East Coast'," Governor McDonnell said. "This funding will provide dividends to all Virginians in the future while Dominion today is adding renewable solar and biomass energy and is in the early stages of testing wind generation off the coast of Virginia. The Virginia General Assembly is to be commended for allowing such R&D activities to count toward utilities meeting the goals of the commonwealth's renewable portfolio standard. Virginia welcomes initiatives like these to develop technologies that can increase the efficiency and reduce the cost of renewable energy resources and support broad integration of Virginia's alternative energy resources into a diverse energy portfolio."

Dominion sought proposals from Virginia colleges and universities, asking them to include a requested funding amount and proposed project term of one to three years. Dominion and each university collaborated on the funding needs and project schedule. The funding needs take into consideration the proposed costs of resources required (equipment, materials, supplies, and professor/graduate student time, etc.) to carry out each R&D project.

The selected projects are detailed below. Dominion is discussing potential additional projects with the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond and George Mason University in Fairfax.

Appalachian School of Law, Grundy, Va., $95,000

Removing Barriers to the Development of Onshore Wind Energy in Virginia

An analysis of the legal, regulatory, policy, and public opinion obstacles and opportunities for onshore wind development in Virginia, primarily with respect to siting and permitting. This includes cataloging the policy incentives and disincentives that exist for permitting and siting onshore wind facilities.

Christopher Newport University, Newport News, Va., $50,000

Overview of Offshore Wind Energy in the United States and the European Union

The study will focus on drivers, incentives, mandates, and other market considerations that affect the supply and demand for offshore wind energy.

George Washington University Virginia Science and Technology Campus, Ashburn, Va., $150,000 over 2 years

High-Efficiency Intermediate-Band Solar Cells with Quantum Dots

Motivated by advancements in nanotechnology, this project will seek to engineer solar cells that will use the unique properties of quantum dots to raise conversion efficiency of solar light into electricity.

Longwood University, Farmville, Va., $50,000

Biomass Optimization Prototype

A multi-phase project to develop a prototype biomass processing plant with the goal of improving the energy gained from the biomass when burned. RPS R&D funding will support Phase 1 Pre-planning Study to identify the most efficient and sustainable way of processing, drying, and storing biomass.

Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Va., $500,000 over 3 years

Development of a Test Facility for Photovoltaic Systems

Establishes a test facility to study issues related to economics, operation, maintenance, and performance of large-scale solar installations. Areas of study include 1) Cost and operational comparison of various solar mounting structures; 2) Side-by-side comparison of different photovoltaic technologies; and 3) Real time analysis of performance degradation of solar tracking systems.

Virginia State University, Ettrick, Va., $150,000 over 2 years

Green Roof Initiative

This study seeks to combine green roof and alternative energy technologies in novel ways to improve both the energy efficiency of buildings and the sustainable use of water for irrigation.

Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va., $300,000 over 3 years

Center for Natural Resources Assessment and Decision Support

Supports the establishment of a new center with a goal of ensuring that the forests of Virginia are used and managed sustainably so they may continue to provide an array of products and services for the benefit of current and future generations.

Virginia Union University, Richmond, Va., $150,000 over 2 years

Sustainable Design Strategies

The project will collect baseline energy usage data at campus facilities. This information will later be used in the design of energy efficient buildings and to conduct comparative analysis of sustainable design strategies.

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For further information: Jeff Caldwell, (804) 786-2211