Harnessing the power of offshore wind off the Southern coast

What is offshore wind?

Offshore wind can help us both reduce carbon pollution and increase energy independence in the South. Typically stronger during the day, offshore winds allow for a more stable and efficient production of energy when consumer demand is at its peak. They can also complement solar power, as offshore winds often increase after peak solar generation. The relatively shallow waters off the Virginia and North Carolina coasts offer some of the best wind power sites in the country, and the winds off the southeast coast have the raw potential to meet much of our region’s power demands. 

We believe the future of wind is bright in Virginia and North Carolina, and we look forward to the responsible development of clean energy solutions of all kinds.

David Carr, Southern Environmental Law Center general counsel

What steps should Virginia and North Carolina be taking?

The Mid-Atlantic is behind other regions in pursuing the promise of wind energy, but it is catching up. Spurred in part by the passage of the transformative Virginia Clean Economy Act in 2020, Dominion Energy has announced new offshore wind projects that could be part of Virginia’s transition to a zero-carbon portfolio by 2050. North Carolina may not be far behind, with ambitious targets for growth in wind energy by 2040.

The push for a carbon-free power grid is long overdue, and we cannot get there without harnessing the power of wind. Offshore projects must be developed responsibly to minimize harm to wildlife and wetlands alike. The waters off the Virginia and North Carolina coasts are habitat for endangered whales, birds, and a wide variety of marine mammals. The coast itself is rich with wetlands that provide our coastal communities with crucial protection from flooding. They must be protected as offshore wind is developed along our coastline. 

SELC is providing the expertise our region needs 

With expertise in energy law and policy, as well as coast and wetlands protection, we are providing leadership our region needs to safely and strategically tap into offshore wind. If done responsibly and in the right locations, offshore wind power promises to generate not only clean electricity, but also jobs and economic growth for our states. We stand ready to use our expertise to ensure these new wind-energy efforts protect our region’s wildlife, create a new sustainable job market, and foster a booming clean-energy economy.