The first-ever lease sale for offshore wind off the Carolinas’ coast has been scheduled for March 16, 2017. The lease sale will allow interested development companies to bid on the rights to site assessment activities to gauge the suitability of the area for offshore wind development. The area to be leased is known as the Kitty Hawk leasing area, and lies approximately 24 nautical miles off of North Carolina’s coast (depicted in orange in the map to the right). This announcement follows the identification of the area in August 2014 and the proposal of the sale last August. Development of offshore wind could bring substantial benefits to North Carolina.
It’s been quite the summer for U.S. offshore wind power! Following months of unprecedented progress in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, the Obama Administration released a strategy today that charts a collective path forward for the U.S. to seize the immense clean energy potential off our shores.
Finally, the WIND Toolkit helps eliminate any guesswork by wind energy advocates regarding newly proposed wind farm projects. Using the old 50 meter, 80 meter or 100 meter wind speed maps use to be the only way the public had any sense of what “good” wind resources looked like. However, those maps always proved too coarse for the average viewer to interpret accurately. Anti-wind activists frequently used outdated maps, some even dating back to the 1980s, to make a case against wind energy. The WIND Toolkit can now provide better analysis for stakeholders interested in learning more about wind energy. As a quick case study, the image below shows the results of the WIND Toolkit query compared to a 100 meter wind speed map in Northeastern North Carolina. The WIND Toolkit shows an average wind speed of approximately 7 meters-per-second (15.7 MPH), but the 100 meter wind map shows speeds of <6 m/s (13.4MPH). That 1 m/s difference results in the difference between a 30% capacity factor and a 40% capacity factor, based on the WIND Toolkit's power curve. In real terms, that is a 33% improvement in capacity factor. North Carolina's first wind farm recently broke ground in that region, and reports suggest average capacity factors of that wind farm to be near 40% – very similar to the results of the WIND Toolkit.
Georgia Tech’s Center for Geographic Information Systems and Strategic Energy Institute has partnered with the Georgia DNR Coastal Resources Division to launch a new marine planning application called the Georgia Coastal and Marine Planner (GCAMP). GCAMP provides online access to data regarding coastal and ocean resources, which can help facilitate Georgia’s management of these resources in regards to offshore wind energy.
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Yesterday, South Carolina reached a major milestone in advancing potential offshore wind energy development in years to come. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the federal regulator that oversees offshore wind development, announced plans to publish two major documents that close in on eventual offshore wind leasing. The two documents are a Notice of [...]
UPDATE: This post was updated to reflect the addition of the Bald Head Island public information meeting on October 6. After a multi-year process of identifying where offshore wind farms might be developed off the coast of North Carolina, federal regulators have concluded that initial activities involved with site studies will have negligible environmental impacts. [...]
This is the seventh post in a blog series discussing state-by-state highlights of wind energy throughout the South in the lead up to the WINDPOWER Expo in Orlando, FL, May 18 – 21. See the rest of the series here. New wind turbine technology is a game changer for clean energy opportunities in South Carolina. Taller turbines [...]
The Executive Order is widely seen as a boon to the United States’ offshore wind energy industry. The Obama Administration approved the nation’s first offshore wind farm, the Cape Wind project, off Massachusetts in 2008; however, the project has stalled. Clark Kent, White House spokesman, stated that, “The Crown Estate – which manages the entire seabed around the United Kingdom out to the 12 nautical mile territorial limit, has a rigorous offshore wind energy development policy that could quickly be harmonized with the United States OCS area.” He noted that offshore wind farms already provide more than 3% of the United Kingdom’s electricity. The Executive Order would also eliminate the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the federal agency in charge of managing all federal waters offshore. “Some may be opposed to the sale and the disbandment of BOEM, but it’s not like we had an effective offshore wind energy policy anyway. We figure, let’s let the Brits have a go at it,” said Kent.
North Carolina is one step closer to developing an offshore wind farm. Yesterday, August 11, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced three Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) off the coast of North Carolina. The three wind WEAs, totaling 307,590 acres, have been identified as areas suitable for potential offshore wind energy development.