Virginia’s natural energy resources represent a valuable asset and significantly contribute to the economic well-being of the Commonwealth. These resources include hydroelectric, wind, solar, geothermal, and other alternative energy sources, yet the primary energy products in Virginia include the fossil fuels coal, natural gas, and oil. Although occurrences of uranium have been investigated in the past and continue to be of interest today, uranium has never been mined, and the regulatory framework for mining remains to be developed.
What is the economic value of the energy resources in Virginia?
In 2012, the total estimated value of fossil fuel resources mined in Virginia was about $2.5 billion. Coal accounted for about $2.1 billion, roughly 84 percent of the total value, while natural gas accounted for about $389 million (16%), and oil about $857 thousand (<1%). Nearly all of the energy resources currently produced in Virginia are located in the Appalachian Plateaus geologic province in the southwestern part of the State. This region includes all or portions of Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise Counties.
The amount of energy produced from Virginia’s resources accounts for less than one-half of the total amount of energy consumed in the State (VEPT, 2007). Thus, Virginia relies upon imports of energy sources including petroleum products such as gasoline and diesel, natural gas, and nuclear fuel for two nuclear power generating plants. Electrical power is also purchased from power producers in neighboring states. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimated total energy consumption in Virginia during 2004 to be about 2,558 trillion Btu (British thermal unit). During the same annual period, the total energy produced as fossil fuels mined in Virginia was about 722 trillion Btu, about 28% of the amount consumed. Energy consumption is associated with electrical power generation, residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation activities. Of the energy that Virginia imports, petroleum products account for about two-thirds of the total.
Electrical power generation is a major use of energy resources that are both mined in Virginia and derived from imported sources. Based on EIA estimates of power generation during 2005, coal-fired power plants remained the most important source of electricity in Virginia, with nuclear power generation a close second (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Electrical power generation in Virginia, 2005. Total = 78,943,045 megawatt-hours
Source: U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration.
Virginia Energy Patterns and Trends (VEPT) provides energy information from a wide range of original sources to the public, elected officials, government agencies, industry, educators, homeowners, and other parties through its web site. VEPT collects and distributes up-to-date information on energy production, distribution, and use within the state of Virginia. Here you can find tables and maps of the locations of all electric power generation facilities by primary fuel type in Virginia.
As part of the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME), the Division of Geology and Mineral Resources (DGMR) investigates the key geologic factors that affect the distribution, availability, quality, and remaining quantities of energy and mineral resources. The results of these investigations are provided as reports, maps, brochures and other educational materials that are available for free download or purchase.