North Carolina Could Finally Tap Into Immense Wind Energy Resources, Create Thousands Of Jobs

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North Carolina offers one of the beautiful coasts in the country. I’ve slept in the sand dunes of that coast, waking early to drift with the wind out to sea. With all that to offer, the good news is that, beyond beauty, the North Carolina coast offers an opportunity for clean energy and green careers, invaluable technical and service jobs in the renewable energy sector.

Elizabeth Ouzts for Energy News Network reports that North Carolina has taken the first step toward what observers say is a crucial study of offshore wind. A request for proposals to analyze the state’s ports and manufacturing supply chain is in the works.

“Other states who’ve conducted similar analyses have created a virtuous cycle of more local jobs, lower costs, and more activity in an offshore wind sector still in its nascent stages in the United States. Advocates say the request for proposals issued last week sets that same cycle in motion for North Carolina.”

“Not only will this provide key insights to the state’s unique industry qualifications and opportunity areas,” president of the Southeastern Wind Coalition, Katharine Kollins, said in a statement, “but it sends an important signal to the offshore wind industry that North Carolina is open for business.”

There are many reasons for this transition. Awake are those who want to see un-natural gas descend as wind energy increases. (Along with all other toxic and hazardous energy sources descending down that curve.)

The new IEA Wind 15-MW reference wind turbine model addresses major advancements in the scale and features of turbines under development. Illustration by NREL

Electricity sources are split up as follows in North Carolina:

  • 31.8% — nuclear
  • 31.7% — natural gas
  • 23.3% — coal
  • 5.5% — solar
  • 4.7% — hydro
  • 1.9% — biomass
  • 0.4% — wind

North Carolina has a tremendous amount of untapped wind power potential.

Ouzts points to North Carolina as owning some of the nation’s best resources for ocean-based wind turbines. The technical potential is there to meet the state’s electricity needs many times over, just from that one source. Some great reading on that topic:

Ouzts reports that federal officials have identified two patches of sea near Wilmington, NC, that could host wind farms. There is also an area just beyond the Kitty Hawk horizon that is in the beginning of development. The turbines at the three sites are reported to be capable of providing the electricity needs of more than 1.5 million American homes, in net.

Again, think also of the jobs that could be created for North Carolinians by such wind farms. Exhilarating, clean, noble jobs that people can be proud of while appreciating the financial benefits of their hard work.

“The request for proposals “marks an exciting milestone in North Carolina’s efforts to seize on the economic development potential of the offshore wind industry,” Chris Chung, executive director of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, said in a statement.

One irony in the state is that many people work in the manufacturing portion of the wind industry, yet there are almost no wind farms.

“The study is to identify what upgrades are necessary at ports in Wilmington and Morehead City and pinpoint job needs within the state, already home to a robust energy-related manufacturing sector, including 28 wind-related manufacturing facilities that employ more than 1,000 people,” Ouzts adds.

“The request for proposals came after Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, promised in November the study would move forward despite an impasse with the Republican-led legislature over the overall 2019–2020 budget. Cooper had originally proposed $300,000 for the research, an idea that won bipartisan support. …

“Proposals are due June 15, and the state hopes the work can be completed by the end of the year. The study is a piece of the state’s Clean Energy Plan issued last year, part of Cooper’s executive order on climate calling for greenhouse gas reductions of 40% by 2025 compared to 2005 levels.”

Ouzts reports that Cassie Gavin, the chief lobbyist for the North Carolina Sierra Club, was quite happy to see the study move forward on its own terms. She expressed the determined hope that it would set the stage for more aggressive policy action. “Hopefully,” she said, “the study will help us get to a goal.”

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Cynthia Shahan

Cynthia Shahan started writing after previously doing research and publishing work on natural birth practices. She has a degree in Education, Anthropology, and Creative Writing. She has been closely following the solar and wind industries for nearly 20 years and the EV industry for more than a decade. Pronouns: She/Her

Cynthia Shahan has 949 posts and counting. See all posts by Cynthia Shahan