Near-Shore Offshore Wind Farms Would Have Huge Impact On Coastal Tourism

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A new study by economists at North Carolina State University has found that offshore wind farms located near-shore would have a big impact on coastal tourism.

“We wanted to know what the impacts of wind farm installations would be on North Carolina coastal tourism, though our findings are also likely relevant for similar coastal vacation spots,” said Laura Taylor, author of a working paper on the study and director of NC State’s Center for Environmental and Resource Economic Policy. The authors, economists from North Carolina State University, found that most people would be unwilling to rent vacation homes that have a view of offshore wind farms — and those that would be willing would expect heavy discounts as a result.

Taylor-windfarm-144-at-12-miles-FULL“We found good news and bad news,” Taylor continued. “There was a lot of support for wind energy, but no one was willing to pay more to see wind turbines from the beach by their vacation rental property. And if turbines are built close to shore, most people said they would choose a different vacation location where they wouldn’t have to see turbines. However, the good news is that our results also show that if turbines are built further than eight miles from shore, the visual impacts diminish substantially for many survey respondents and it is unlikely the turbines would negatively impact coastal vacation property markets.”

The paper, The Amenity Costs of Offshore Wind Farms: Evidence from a Choice Experiment, was the result of a survey of 484 people who had recently rented homes along the North Carolina coast where there are currently offshore wind farm leases in play. Of the respondents, 56% had rented vacation homes every year for the previous five years, and a third of that 56% had rented exactly the same house. 

Of the total respondents, after being shown a variety of photographs that depicted offshore wind turbines installed at various distances from the coast, 54% said they would not rent a vacation home if turbines were in view at all — no matter the distance, or the rental discount. 20% would rent, but only if there was an average discount of around 5% — though if the turbines were located 12 miles or further from shore, this group did not mind. The remainder 26% “made more nuanced tradeoffs.”

They needed rental discounts if wind farms were as far as 12 miles offshore – and the discounts they needed if turbines were closer than 12 miles were so high as to be completely unrealistic.

“If a wind farm was built 5 miles offshore and only 1,000 homes had impacted views – and had to reduce rents accordingly – we estimated the economic impact at $31 million over 20 years,” Taylor said. “The question then becomes, does that $31 million outweigh the cost of moving a wind farm further offshore?”

“The good news for North Carolina is that, at present, the state has removed all but one of the potential wind farm sites that are less than 12 miles from shore,” Taylor concluded. “But that could change. And our findings are relevant to other coastal regions that are family-oriented communities with many repeat visitors and have lower-density development that is mostly beach houses – these features are common all along the Atlantic seaboard.”

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Joshua S Hill

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (, and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at for more.

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93 thoughts on “Near-Shore Offshore Wind Farms Would Have Huge Impact On Coastal Tourism

    • So people do not like the looks of offshore wind turbines, but what about drill rigs (off shore and on land).
      And then we have: power lines, cell towers, radio towers, should I go on?
      Do people think those are nice to look at?

      • They’re just part of the scenery. And at least off shore wind turbines have a certain stately majesty as they slowly rotate. If you can even see them from 5 miles away.

  • Because it’s the wrong Windparks. Built KiteGen or Skysails windplants. Those can not be seen or are just like kiters.

    • KiteGen needs to finish development, and testing. I googled skysails, and the company that came up uses it for ships.

        • It seems to me that there are as many working kitegens as e-cats or thorium reactors… sorry for being rude, but we have to be realistic and avoid living on unsubstantiated claims.

          • Unlike the e-cat, blacklight or theoretical reactors KiteGen has actually produced electricity with various demonstration plants.

            They are now refining the KiteWing.
            The physics behind the KiteGen is no mystery and actual flights have proven numerical simulations to be accurate.

            You can go there and visit them. They will happily show you around and explain you everything you’d like to know.

            I can’t quite understand the skepticism here. Under the other article people are discussing the possibility to power trucks with 12 Tesla batteries or similar fantasies…
            It also doesn’t compare to small wind ideas, any exotic wind devices or alternative turbines.
            There is no harm in trying compared to nuclear reactor schemes.

            Scepticism is good but why not try something new?

          • Off shore is the best place for these since you have to restrict the air space they cover. Image a small plane pilot or a helicopter flying into the wire. Oooooh no Mr Bill! But off shore you could have a no fly zone below twice the length of the wire.

          • Around other structuresor areas where the airspace is restricted anyways.
            Plenty of that.

            Then again you probably don’t need airspace restriction since the kites can actively avoid anything entering the airspace.
            They is a radar control station that even detects flocks of birds. Planes and copters are slow.
            KiteGen Stems can be placed very close together they are planned in an array of 50 (150MW) for the first installation and can be managed very effectively that way.

          • Thank you for confirming my bad thoughts.

          • Ippolito is sharing deniers’ op-ed against photovoltaics (check who Franco Battaglia is) blaming it for the failure of kitegen. And in the meantime, no working sample, not even for reliability studies, only complaints that nobody is helping him.

            Not exactly like Elon Musk…

          • He’s not blaming anything on PV. Which failure of KiteGen? They are moving forward on a steady plan.
            Ippolito is in charge of the research part. They don’t plan on producing generators.
            Do you actually know what they got?

          • Look, Im italian mother tongue, I know what I read on his fb page. He shared articles saying that photovoltaics is the doom, a scam, that is done with chinese coal and is too expensive etc etc.

            However, feel free to invest your money with them. I prefer to invest in PV and other technologies that don’t need further industrialization.

          • That however doesn’t invalidate the advantages of high altitude power over PV and conventional wind energy.

          • It doen’t validate or invalidate anything. It’s all speculation. I can just see you going to a bank looking for financing, and they want to know if you can make enough money to pay them back. How much does it cost? Don’t know. Installation? Permits? Operations and maintenence cost? Expected production? Lifetime? Don’t know any of that.

            You can’t even start making educated guesses without a working full scale prototype. I’m not being negative. I’m just pointing out what stage of the process this thing is at. I wish them luck,

          • You said “kitegen is ready”. From what I can tell, the only thing it is ready for is more development, and testing. The steps after that are a demonstration, and evaluatkon project, manufacturing, and the development of some sort of support. Then you can see how it compares to conventional shipping wind turbines, and then hopefully find somebody to purchase it.

            Don’t get me wrong, I wish them luck. Interesting idea, but for me ready = shipping product.

          • He is saying TRL8 is reached. They are looking for industrial partners for production.

          • So getting closer to being in pre-production. Then a site with several (more than one) of the production models. And they can have enough data to get people to think about buying them.

  • One solution: paint them blue so that they blend in.

    But still need markers for ship traffic and airplanes.

    • Kind of want the birds to see them too.

      • Birds would still see them up close, but from the distance they could blend in.

      • Danish research on offshore wind (tracking birds with lidar) suggests they do see them and change course to pass down middle od rows between…

  • Did they ask if the people had to choose between seeing a distant wind turbine vs the barrier island being under water, which would they choose? The unfortunate truth is that even with a 100% switch instantly now, those beaches will still be gone within 100 years. So long term its really a non-issue, because those houses won’t be there.

    • People don’t plan that far out. They’re just being asked about what they would like for a rental on a weekend or something.

      It would have been hilarious if the researchers showed the participants pictures of a coal power plant down the street from the rental property or a fracking well next door. Maybe put some giant oil rigs out in the water instead of turbines and see how people like it.

  • My God, what is wrong with people?

    • My thoughts exactly John. I thought that the raising of a ‘pastoral’ view above all else was a hangover peculiar to post-Victorian England but it appears this particularly vain form of stupidity flourishes elsewhere. Cold comfort.

    • Or is something wrong with me? I love seeing them… calm and yet powerful, a wonderful engineering feat.

      • ” I love seeing them… calm and yet powerful, a wonderful engineering feat.”

        I agree. Watching wind turbines work fills me with joy.

    • Most people are not able to think by themselves. Once they hear or read somewhere that wind turbines are ugly (whatever the real motive behind the statement), their mind thinks that there should be some truth and so they stick with the view.
      In contrast, they won’t object to electric wiring jumping from pole to pole along the streets (something I find particularly ugly when I come to the USA).
      Because they’re used to seeing them in the landscape since their youth.

  • I support anything that could get me a beachfront rental for half price! The last beachfront rental I stayed in was sandwiched in between Davis Besse nuclear power plant and Lake Erie. I’m pretty trusting of nuclear engineers, but I still think I’d prefer a wind turbine.

    • Agreed. But I don’t believe there would be much actual impact at all. The Koch Brothers retreat will have to be moved, but other than that….

      • David Koch says that wind turbines are ugly and are the cause of sleeplessness, nausea and migraines.

        • I would imagine that wind turbines and other renewable energy technology is giving David Koch and other people heavily invested in fossil fuels sleeplessness,
          nausea and migraines.

          They’re probably having to buy Prep H by the case….

        • I suppose David Koch has had some sleepless nights because of wind turbines. All those billions stuck in the Alberta Tar Sands will hopefully be stranded assets and have to stay in the ground. Poor billionaires, they may have to learn how to survive on only $500 million

        • So that’s where the people of Ontario get that complaint. I was wondering where that insanity originated.

    • Davis Besse is one of the relatively badly mismanaged nuclear plants in the US:
      It will need to be dismantled before it poisons the whole area, because it’s slowly deteriorating and there’s no way to fix it:

      But the odds of them spilling nuclear contamination on you *while you were there* were still pretty low. Still, I’d also prefer wind turbines!

  • I guess the oil companies never had to ask anyone about placing all those oil rigs off the coast of Santa Barbara. Almost nobody even knew about the oil and gas wells 1/2 a mile up the hill from Porter Ranch California homes.

    • Don’t forget the tar on the beach that sticks to the bottom of your feet.

  • Ah, good old North Carolina, which doesn’t allow talk of sea level rise. And somehow its State University says there will be a significant impact on the seashore rental market. Despite the fact that there is not a single planned wind farm planned within four miles closer than the curvature of the Earth blocks the view. Of course, we all appreciate just how gosh darned important is the maintenance of maximum profits for the sea shore rental sector.

  • Two of my favorite ski hills have wind farms on top of their ridges. People still go. Ticket prices still creep up every year. At one of them, the base of one turbine is < 500 feet from the chairlift unload platform. It's actually quite spectacular!

    Come to think of it, the ski resort where I get a pass every year has a major windfarm visible from most of the mountain, about 10 miles away at the closest. They keep having record-breaking years.

    • And I’m guessing you didn’t expire from the noise, sub-sonic or otherwise, while on the platform…

  • Probably has more to do with the poll than the state.

    • If not, it is even more despairing.

  • The journalist got suckered into publishing a manufactured-to-order “survey”.
    Why not spend some time investigating who funded this study?

    • Josh must have had a bad day to put this up without comment.

    • CORRECT I was wondering which fossil fuel company paid for this “research”

  • What a useful survey of the prejudices of a population none of whom has ever seen an offshore wind farm!

  • NIMBY These finding follow what I have been seeing in my coastal town. Don t underestimate the power and fight these well -to- do folks are willing to undertake to save THEIR ocean view. Hope the floating deep water turbines are real and coming soon Just my view from the Southeastern Coast. Lou Gage

  • Well the republicans wanted to open up offshore oil drilling in the Atlantic. Thankfully Obama ended that insanity. Would these same NIMBY’s object to an ugly oil rig, natural gas fracking rig, dirty coal plant, or nuclear power plant with it’s waste storage issues? I agree off shore wind turbines aren’t pretty, but their are worse trade offs. Amazingly these NIMBY’s say nothing about the ugly beach rental property their staying at. Wouldn’t the beaches and natural eco systems be much healthier if they were 4 miles inland, instead of right on the beach? Also storms would have less impact if people could not live within 4 miles of a beach. Beaches would be much more beautiful, if development was kept farther back.

  • Do these whiners apply for rental discounts each time a wind powered yacht passes by?

  • Q1: “You wouldn’t like seeing nasty looking industrial windmills destroying your beautiful ocean view, would you?”

    Q2: “If someone put one of those nasty looking industrial windmills in the ocean a few miles off the beach where you could barely see it you would want a 50% rate cut on your rental, wouldn’t you?”

  • Did the study include those, like myself, who would very greatly PREFER a view of wind turbines, and would without doubt NOT go to a location If I was aware that thye had shamefully rejected wind turbines?

  • It is very easy to deceive someone with a photo. A photo does not provide a clear idea of the view, unless there is a GREAT deal of context, and the person is actually on-site for reference. A 500 foot tower, 12 miles away, is the size of a 1/5 inch object viewed at arm’s length, except that a bit of that is actually hidden by the curvature of the earth. I am not calculating that for you today but it’s significant. Point is, you can barely see turbines at 12 miles, and there is no way on God’s earth you could possibly hear one from that distance, despite what a lunatic might tell you.

    • About 100′ of that 500′ tower would be hidden 12 miles away.

      • Thanks for doing the math!

      • Probably assuming no ocean waves at the time. Even more covered because of the waves. 😉
        Although, a 0.2 inch object on the ocean horizon is already small enough. Most people would not even be aware unless pointed out and they tried to see it.

  • Doesn’t seem to affect UK when they are actually built…
    They can be very hard to see (or maybe that’s only in UK weather!) even close in…
    I’m thinking of the Sheringham shoal wind farm, off the UK seaside town of Sheringham Norfolk – I have found it difficult to see the turbines even from the cliff in most lights…
    did not spoil my holiday!

    • This shot was taken from Botany Bay in Kent and 15km out is the London Array. I could just see it on the day if I looked in one place for a long time and then only when the sunlight was glinting on the rotating blades. This whole area is great for turbines, as you drive long the coast you get to see London Array, Thanet and Kentish Flats.

      • Thanks. Beat me to it. Sunbathing in cloudy weather, 🙂 I doubt anyone on that beach is thinking wind farm. Quite pleasant. There is some mist that also obscures visibility at times offshore.

        • Yeah, my thoughts exactly. August is the warmest month there with an average high of 62F. Those white cliffs are probably Dover and are honeycombed with passages from the war.

      • be helpful to know if that is a normal lens. Looks a bit wider than normal to me.

        • It was a wide lens. Had it on 18mm.

          • Sensor size? An 18 on my Oly works like a 36mm on a full frame camera.

          • DSLR 🙂

            Canon eos 300d

          • Half frame so 29mm equivalent.

            I’m shooting a 4/3 sensor Oly dSLR . (And I need to get rid of a couple Pentax half frame dSLRs that I no longer use….)

  • This kind of study is worthless. Asking someone to evaluate how they feel about something they have never seen [ for real ,not simulation ] is begging for a negative response. Like putting unfamiliar food in front of children.

    • Exactly!

  • When I reflect on all the off-shore oil rigs I saw from packed beaches on the Riviera, and the oil tar I had to scrape from my feet after going to the beach, I’m skeptical of the validity of this poll.

  • That’s funny, when I think of Holland, I think of a few things. Tulips, dikes, and…

  • Even though they will barely seen, if at all, the NIMBY’s complain. Of course they say nothing about the pig farms in North Carolina that produce toxic lagoons, dirty coal plants, mountain top removal operations that blast mountains to dust, or nuclear power plants that produce deadly waste which must be stored for the next 1000 years.

  • The article mentioned 8 and 12 miles off shore. What is the depth of the ocean at these distances off North Carolina’s shore. I would think this study had a bit of interview bias. I agree that people are generally against things they think will hurt their enjoyment. The study seemed to address potential renters. I worry more about the owners. Have to agree the background of this study might not pass muster. Lou Gage

  • I spent every summer for 18 years in a beach house surrounded by a giant lighthouse, a military shooting range, a busy shipping lane with huge ships going to Germany, a fishing harbor and a busy ferry terminal at the other side of the peninsula. My kids and ex still use it every summer. Did I love that beach house – did the 35.000 other owners of summerhouses in that small commune love it. My cousins house at the beach just north of Copenhagen is just about the most expensive real estate you can find in Denmark and Oresund is just about the most trafficked strait in the world and the Swedish coastline less than 12 miles away is quite industrialized including hundreds of wind turbines and an abandoned nuclear power plant.

    Peace and quit is not really voted in at real estate offices.

  • “They needed rental discounts if wind farms were as far as 12 miles offshore – and the discounts they needed if turbines were closer than 12 miles were so high as to be completely unrealistic.”
    Based on survey results asking people about something they’ve never seen before. Even a few miles out wind turbines don’t look like much, stationary sailboats on the horizon. I remember reading off-shore wind turbines off beaches in Denmark are actually a tourist attraction. People want to see what they look like.
    This is an economic impact workup done by people who are afraid of something they don’t know, something new. They have an ax to grid, a point to make whether it’s true or not.

  • “effects of the existing windfarms on tourism” = reality
    Thank you!

  • Build them. They’ll get use to it like the street light beaming down on them at night. Personally I like them. I’d rent anyway. I like the beach at night anyway.

  • First Huntington Beach has the highest rents in the country and you have oil wells right off the beach, about one mile. Second once turbines are commonplace you will not even notice them. The same way people do not notice the large power transmission poles they drive by everyday. Turbines everywhere!

    • I prefer kites over turbines.

      • Flying kites on the beach can be fun.

        Too bad those electricity producing kites have never been proven to work….

        • They have been proven to work in several cases and simulations since 2006.
          They have not been industrialized yet.

          • Has a full sized version been flown for an extended period of time and been shown to produce enough electricity to make the technology competitive?
            When that happens then we can consider kites as part of the solution.

            Right now you seem to be treating hope as reality.

  • Where does one find the performance data for long term testing?

    • Let’s go one obvious step further.

      If working prototypes were demonstrated to utility companies and no one was willing to finance the company then that’s a very heavy indication that they got nothin’.

      Venture capitalists have been shoveling money into promising energy ideas.

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