A new market report by the American Wind Energy Association shows that 2016 was a record breaker for the wind industry. And signs are pointing to an equally aggressive 2017. With a total of 8,203 MW of wind energy capacity commissioned during the year, the majority of projects were completed in the last three months. The United States now contains more than 82,000 megawatts of wind power. That’s enough power for the equivalent of roughly 25 million homes.
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.
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.
Things are moving in the realm of offshore wind energy in North Carolina. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) recently announced that it intends to prepare an environmental assessment for three large areas off of North Carolina’s coast in preparation for potential wind energy development and has asked for input on these areas. The environmental assessment (EA) will consider the environmental effects associated with the initial stages of site assessment and research leading up to wind farm development, for example geological and geophysical surveys and biological surveys.