RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ/Governor’s Office Post) – Governor Glenn Youngkin announced the launch of what he calls the first energy technology testbed in southwest Virginia, which will “provide land as a laboratory and scientific assistance to advance energy innovation. “.
The governor said the initial site for the Energy Delta Lab will be in Wise County, near the town of Bond, and current plans call for more test beds to be developed around the area.
The Energy DELTA (Discovery, Education, Learning and Technology Accelerator) lab program is the result of a collaboration between the Virginia Department of Energy, the Energy Research and Development Authority of Southwest Virginia and their business development partner InvestSWVA.
“Since announcing Virginia’s 2022 Energy Plan, I’m pleased to announce that this Energy Delta Lab project fulfills our vision of defining Virginia as a force for energy innovation,” Governor Youngkin said. “There is no other program like it in the United States. Through this energy testbed, we see a commitment to transformation, encouragement for start-ups, and support for developing promising careers in exciting new fields.”
“As America moves toward new forms of energy production and use, Southwest Virginia has an opportunity to redefine itself as a leader in energy innovation,” said Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick. “The Energy Delta Lab testbed project underscores our determination to take Virginia’s energy leadership to new heights.”
“This project is yet another example of our vision for reimagining economic competitiveness in Southwest Virginia,” said Representative Terry Kilgore (R-1), Virginia House Majority Leader and InvestSWVA Co-Chairman. “Energy is a business we know. On behalf of the entire legislative delegation in the region, I can say that we believe this research work related to economic development will create new opportunities for the entire region.”
“Energy Delta Lab is a concept that becomes a reality in the most logical place,” said Mike Quillen, chair of Energy Delta Lab and the Southwest Virginia Energy Research and Development Authority. “Our work as part of the global energy story is entering another chapter, encouraging a re-examination of energy production and what it means – and needs – to have a successful career in the industry.”
“Energy Delta Labs is an investment in the future of Southwest Virginia,” said Chris Beam, President and Chief Operating Officer of Appalachian Power. “This is an opportunity for Appalachian Power to actively participate in next-generation energy research and development where it makes sense for our customers.”
“Dominion Energy Virginia is delighted to join the strong team of partners at Energy DELTA Lab,” said Ed Baine, president of Dominion Energy Virginia. “This is a major development for Southwest Virginia and will help ensure the Commonwealth of Virginia’s continued contribution to the global energy conversation.”
“The Energy Delta Lab concept aligns with local, regional, state, federal and international goals,” said U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (D-VA). “Many of us have been working hard for years to create new economic opportunities in Southwest Virginia. This initiative is a promising step forward as it takes advantage of Southwest Virginia’s diverse and unique terrain, positioning the region as a leader in clean energy research and development.”
“Energy Delta Labs is a pioneering initiative to leverage the resources and technological know-how of Southwest Virginia,” said U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith (R-9). “This will put our region at the forefront of exciting developments in the energy sector that will one day power the world.”
“Energy Delta Lab’s focus on leveraging traditional energy assets to develop new and innovative energy technologies can only happen in Southwest Virginia,” Will Payne, managing partner of Coalfield Strategies, said the firm leads business development for Energy DELTA Lab and InvestSWVA. “This is just the beginning of what we must do together to realize our vision of a new, diverse economy in the region. And, with the Energy Delta Lab as our tool, we can define Virginia as the epicenter of America’s energy innovation. “
Read on for more information on this project from Governor Yankin’s Office:
As a nation, we are going through a period of change that challenges the way we create, transport, store and use energy. New energy technologies are emerging every day and need to be reviewed to ensure that they not only meet commercialization potential, but also provide the low-cost, clean energy the market demands. The Energy DELTA lab is the culmination of four years of work in southwest Virginia to build a tool that could lead this research toward commercialization and deployment. The initial test site in Wise County will be on a property owned by Cumberland Forest LP and managed by The Nature Conservancy. Leading private industry partners include Appalachian Power and Dominion Energy Virginia.
The Energy Delta Labs program was developed through a previously announced $975,000 grant. Federal Abandoned Mines Economic Revitalization (AMLER) program, which is designed to support economic and community development goals in areas impacted by the downturn in coal production. The funding, which is subject to final approval by the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, will be used to secure previously mined land and infrastructure improvements needed to deploy clean energy projects.
The initiative builds on the unique heritage of Southwest Virginia. Home to more than 100,000 acres of previously mined property, more than 9,000 gas wells, numerous mines, and unlimited water supplies, the region’s diverse topographical, mineral, and subsurface resources provide an ideal environment for the commercialization and deployment of emerging energy technologies, including Hydrogen, mine-based geothermal, small modular nuclear reactors, innovative solar power and advanced energy storage, including pumped-storage hydro.
At the heart of Energy Delta Labs is an economic development strategy designed to drive economic growth and diversification in southwest Virginia. Work on these projects, and the resulting energy assets, will bring new opportunities to a region affected by the downturn in fossil fuel production. This event will ultimately create new career paths for the region’s workforce.
The innovative project received strong support from the Southwest Virginia congressional delegation.
The original concept of the Energy Delta Lab was designed by Dr. Michael Kamis, former director of the Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research. InvestSWVA and the LENOWISCO Planning District Council, through a grant from the GO Virginia Region One Council and the U.S. Economic Development Agency, led further research on the concept, codenamed Project Innovation, including operational and site planning.
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