Update on Offshore Wind in North Carolina

At the request of the North Carolina General Assembly, in June 2009, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill published the results of  a 9-month study to assess the feasibility of installing wind turbines in the sounds and off the coast of North Carolina. A pdf of the full report along with a Powerpoint presentation summarizing this study for residents of Buxton, NC and maps of the NC’s offshore wind resources and constraints is available. As a result of the study’s findings, UNC and Duke Energy signed a contract in October 2009 to place up to three demonstration wind turbines in the Pamlico Sound.

However, in August of 2010, Duke Energy announced it would no longer pursue this plan due to the expense which was not deemed economically viable given the size of the project.

Instead, Duke Energy is continuing to fund research by scientists at UNC-Chapel Hill to continue their studies on offshore wind potential and to continue assessing how marine birds could be impacted by offshore wind.  This information could one day enable large-scale offshore wind development perhaps on the outer continental shelf (OCS).

In January 2011, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management convened an Offshore Renewable Energy Task Force to “facilitate the effective and efficient review of proposed renewable energy projects on the OCS offshore North Carolina.”

At the most recent meeting, held May 11, 2011, additional input from the Department of Defense and the National Park Service was presented and indicates a sizable fraction of the waters off NC may be excluded from development but still leaves thousands of square miles that may be developed.

Read Map limits offshore wind farms, News and Observer, May 18, 2011 for more information.

You can see the preliminary map  showing the 3679 square miles that are potentially available for development by scrolling to page 10 of the presentation titled, NC Offshore Wind Energy Potential Development Areas Map.

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