A conference on wind energy along the Carolinas, Virginia and Georgia coast is coming to sometimes-blustery Charlotte in March.
The Southeastern Coastal Wind Conference will be hosted by dozens of companies, state agencies and advocacy groups. Among them are Duke Energy, the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association, Virginia Tech and Charlotte-based Nucor Steel.
Charlotte's not known for its wind power, but it is known as an "energy powerhouse," said conference co-chair Brian O'Hara, who's president of the N.C. Offshore Wind Coalition in Raleigh. O'Hara hopes for as many as 400 attendees at the March 8-9 event at the Charlotte Convention Center.
The conference will focus on the Southeast's supply chain infrastructure and labor force that could produce parts for the wind industry. Studies have estimated that 2,000 to 3,000 N.C. workers are already connected to the industry, O'Hara said.
The Department of Energy has estimated North Carolina's onshore and offshore wind resources could generate up to 10,000 megawatts by 2030. The Obama administration last year identified high-priority wind energy areas on the mid-Atlantic coast to speed up development of wind.
Duke Energy will collaborate with renewable energy consulting firm AWS Truepower and others on a DOE-funded study of wind development off the Carolinas coast, the companies said earlier this month. Swiss-owned ABB, which is building a plant in Huntersville to make high-voltage electrical cables, UNC Chapel Hill and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory are also involved.
The first two land-based wind farms proposed for North Carolina had bumpy starts. A 300-megawatt farm in coastal Pasquotank and Perquimans counties got state approval but its developer couldn't find a buyer for its energy. Environmentalists have fought an 80-megawatt proposal in Beaufort County, saying its turbines could kill migratory birds.