Even though the Southeast can play a major role in the development of the U.S. offshore wind industry, our region tends to play second fiddle to the Northeast or even the Great Lakes region. Unless the Department of Energy recognizes the importance of Southern states, our region will miss out on a great opportunity and the offshore wind industry may very well be hampered as well.
The South has a lot to offer the offshore wind industry. Three major utility companies in our region, Duke Energy (NC), Santee Cooper (SC) and Southern Company (GA) are investigating offshore wind energy. Universities like Georgia Tech (GA), Clemson University (SC) and University of North Carolina (NC) all have excellent programs to support the offshore wind industry. Several businesses that are specific to offshore wind energy, such as a subsea cable installer (TX), a specialty turbine installation vessel ship builder and operator (LA), an offshore wind turbine blade manufacturer (LA) and environmental engineering firms (TX), already exist in the South. Our region is a prime location for these new green jobs.
In mid-September, the Department of Energy announced it was starting a new program that would focus on developing the fledgling offshore wind industry in the United States. The Offshore Wind Innovation and Demonstration Initiative (OSWIND) seeks to hasten the development of offshore wind energy on a scale similar to developing 54 large nuclear power plants at a price that is competitive with coal-fired power plants. That goal for offshore wind energy, while it is meant to be a national goal, is just 10% of the Southeast’s total offshore potential according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory – highlighting the huge potential for this resource in our region.
The Department of Energy is receiving public comments on this new program until October 29th, 2010. The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy will be submitting comments highlighting the importance of our region. The OSWIND program should utilize the South’s maritime and manufacturing expertise while prioritizing market barrier removal to achieve the program’s goals. OSWIND represents a great opportunity for our region, and by prioritizing the South, it can help advance the entire industry across the country.
To find out more about the new OSWIND program, visit the Department of Energy’s website here.
Comments on the new program are accepted until October 29th and can be emailed here:
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