A Geospatial Hub to Support Wind Energy and Maritime Activity Spaces near Hampton Roads, Virginia, U.S.A.

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Date of Original Version



The urgent need for clean, sustainable energy development prompts the Commonwealth of Virginia (U.S.A.) to support the development of wind energy in state and federal waters. The port of Hampton Roads is a vital region for maritime commerce, recreation, and national defense, and the state also aims to avert wind development impacts on national security. This project assessed the state of marine geodata portals and decisionsupport methods for wind energy siting and developed a solution to inform energy developers, military stakeholders, and state and local government. An interdisciplinary team developed a user experience (UX) design approach to the problem, gathering persona-driven requirements and designing, prototyping, and testing a solution. Extensive geospatial wind resource data, energy infrastructure, shore and maritime air and vessel activity, protected lands, energy grid connections, and administrative processes are integrated in a web-based solution to screen and assess compatibility. This paper highlights Geographic Information Systems (GIS) used to provide decision support for site suitability analysis of offshore wind energy potential. With a focus on military use spaces, the project sought to gather publicly available activity spaces and areas of critical concern to military siting. We also integrated the newest available maritime vessel traffic activity from AIS data. A user-driven design is applied with GIS data that incorporates the diverse variability of energy, jurisdictional, and potential activity use space conflicts of an increasingly busy maritime environment. The approach taken in this project demonstrates that UX can support the range of developers, regulators, and maritime space users. The WindsiteVA hub spans onshore as well as offshore and nearshore (state waters and the Chesapeake Bay). Spatial analyses include several webmap capabilities, a library of basemaps, site exploration and coordinate conversion tools, reporting tools, and metadata and external data resources. Users are guided through pathways unique to personas: Developers, government agency personnel, or military personnel. As a 'one-stop tool' the webbased site is accessible publicly and utilizes Esri ArcGIS Hub technology. The site steps users through critical processes and data elements, such as informal queries, Notice of Proposed Construction for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), VA Department of Environmental Quality Permit by Rule (PBR), the US Department of Defense siting clearinghouse, and other procedures. Results suggest improved spatial decision-making and marine spatial planning can be achieved at minimal cost by combining UX design and geospatial hub technology. Wind resource development around seaports can be optimized and spatial conflicts reduced, costs lowered, and cumulative impacts identified. WindSiteVA captures complex processes and major concerns for wind energy availability and military concerns, yet it is not redundant with other policies or rules nor does it reflect sitescale reviews such as environmental impact assessments. Early results of WindSiteVA show that a screening-level approach can assist wind energy developers in coastal inshore and offshore waters, where relatively abundant wind energy resources exist, and reduce impacts to military and national defense and other maritime activities.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Oceans Conference Record (IEEE)