Companies bid on North Carolina offshore wind site

Offshore wind turbines are installed off the coast of the Netherlands. (© kruwt)

The U. S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management held a competitive wind lease sale for the Kitty Hawk Wind Energy Area off the coast of North Carolina today. The Wind Energy Area is over 120,000 acres and is 24 nautical miles from the coast at its closest point. North Carolina has more offshore wind potential than any Atlantic state. The lengthy distance from shore means a future wind power project would likely not be visible from shore.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management initially identified nine interested companies qualified to participate in the auction. The number of interested companies demonstrates the growing interest in offshore wind in the region as well as the country.

Offshore wind farms bring the opportunity for significant economic growth. According to a 2015 Navigant Consulting study, a 720 megawatt wind farm would bring in $436 million in direct investment and an estimated 2,056 jobs. The indirect and induced jobs would be over 7,000 and total investments would be over $1.3 billion.

“State policies need to incentivize the development of this clean, zero-fuel cost energy source,” said David Carr, SELC General Counsel. “State policy should encourage and reward the upfront investment to capture this clean energy.”

Massachusetts and New York have now made the largest commitments to offshore wind in the country at 1,600 megawatts and 2,400 megawatts, respectively.

Countries around the world are already reaping the economic and environmental benefits of offshore wind power. In Europe, this booming industry currently supports 70,000 long-term, high-quality jobs. The first offshore wind farm in the U.S., the Block Island Wind Farm off of Rhode Island, began operations in late 2016 and has created 300 jobs.

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