The Energy DELTA Lab will launch its first site in Wise County, with the goal of testing new energy technology for commercial implementation while boosting economic growth in Southwest Virginia.
“Since announcing the Virginia 2022 Energy Plan, I am pleased to announce this Energy DELTA Lab project which delivers on our vision to define Virginia as a force in energy innovation,” Governor Glenn Youngkin said in a press release the day after calling for a new nuclear reactor in Southwest Virginia.
“With this energy testbed, we see a commitment to transformation, encouragement for startup enterprises and support for the development of promising careers in exciting new fields,” he said.
According to the lab’s website, the project is the result of four years of work and a collaboration between the Virginia Department of Energy, the Southwest Virginia Energy Research and Development Authority, and InvestSWVA, and has private partners including Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power.
“The Lab’s initial concept was designed by Dr. Michael Karmis, former director of the Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research. The Southwest Virginia Energy Research and Development Authority’s 2019 enabling legislation included six goals, including: ‘Assist energy technology research and development by promoting the development of a Southwest Virginia Energy Park.’ Later that year, InvestSWVA launched as a regional marketing campaign with the goal of defining Southwest Virginia as the energy innovation capital of the East Coast,” the site explains.
The site is on land managed by The Nature Conservancy, and a second site is planned to be announced later this year. One of the goals of the project is to take advantage of Southwest Virginia’s mining history, which Energy DELTA Lab says makes it “the ideal setting” for research into new energy technology including Small Modular Reactors and hydrogen energy generation, two potential energy sources Youngkin’s energy plan calls for.
The project will fund land and infrastructure acquisition with a $975,000 grant from the federal Abandoned Mine Land Economic Revitalization Program. Officials including Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Mark Warner (D-VA) and Congressman Morgan Griffith (R-VA-09) praised the project in Youngkin’s release.
“The Energy DELTA Lab is a groundbreaking initiative that draws on Southwest Virginia’s resources and technical knowledge,” Griffith said. “It will keep our region at the forefront of exciting developments in the energy sector that will one day power the world.”
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