Friday, September 14, 2012

Use NC's offshore winds, group says

Atlantic states including North Carolina should more aggressively take advantage of their offshore wind resources, the National Wildlife Federation says in a new report.

Harnessing 4 percent of the 1,300 gigawatts of Atlantic wind energy potential, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory has estimated, could power 14 million homes. North Carolina has more wind potential in near-shore waters than any other East Coast state, the lab has estimated.

Yet not one turbine spins off the East Coast, although the controversial Cape Wind project in Massachusetts is expected to generate electricity by 2015.

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is working with officials in North Carolina, South Carolina and eight other states to set the stage for offshore wind-energy leases. The bureau expects to announce potential lease areas and gauge the interest by commercial developers through an upcoming "call" for information.

About a dozen developers responded to similar calls in Virginia and Maryland, says Brian O'Hara, president of the N.C. Offshore Wind Coalition. The Department of Energy is also expected to announce research grants for offshore wind technology aimed at bringing costs down.

The challenge, O'Hara says, is finding buyers for the power. It's a question not only of connecting offshore turbines to the electric grid but of policy. North Carolina demands that utilities supply the cheapest power available, a position that doesn't consider the long-term benefits of developing a resource with high initial costs.

Wind should be included in the state's renewable-energy standard, alongside the existing targets for solar and other alternative fuels, says Richard Mode, the Wildlife Federation's outreach coordinator in Morganton. Legislators should make the standard itself more aggressive than the 12.5 percent clean-energy goal it sets for 2021, he says, and reconsider a measure to boost the economic development potential of offshore wind.

"All this is to build certainty in the marketplace" that state policies support the industry, he says.

Gov. Bev Perdue created an offshore wind task force in 2011, but because of budget cuts it has never been met.


Europeanexpat said...

The Dutch are cutting back due to very high maintenance costs (primarily corrosion), but we'll have to learn from our own mistakes

Jim said...

Oh, how I yearn to go out on my ocean-front balcony at Wrightville Beach to watch the sun come up through the forest of spinning turbines!

Anonymous said...

Ever seen the Pacific Ocean view along the highway from LA to Santa Barbara? It's a beautiful sight of oil rigs and wind turbines. Just what the tourist industry of eastern North Carolina needs.

Where would all those Jersey, New York and Pennsylvanian wannabe Italian restaurant owners be then?