Federal authorities on Wednesday announced that about 1,900 square miles of Atlantic Ocean waters are open for building offshore wind farms, making North Carolina the nation’s new energy hotspot for planting forests of whirling turbines in the high seas.
The U.S. Department of Interior identified a combined sector that’s larger than any such previously designated for hosting the 400-foot turbines. Two of the maritime blocks are between Myrtle Beach and Wilmington, while one lies beyond the Outer Banks, across from Kitty Hawk, Nags Head and Manteo.
A host of developers are expected to express interest, setting the stage for a federal lease auction as early as next year to allow projects to move forward. North Carolina’s ocean waters are considered to have some of the best wind resources along the East Coast. What’s more, the offshore areas picked by the feds have the advantage of being near populated regions with existing transmission capacity and other infrastructure needed to move gigawatts of electricity onto the power grid.
But offshore wind energy remains among the most expensive forms of electricity today, and building a wind farm in the sea has proven an elusive goal in this country. The industry is still distrusted by some as a subsidy-dependent boondoggle, even though advocates depict wind energy as a clean and safe alternative to mining, fracking, energy imports and nuclear waste.
An offshore wind farm long planned in Nantucket Sound off Cape Cod in Massachusetts is tied up in legal challenges, while plans to build one in Delaware waters fell through in recent weeks because of the likely expiration of federal tax incentives for these multibillion dollar projects. ...
One company that expects to file a notice of interest in bidding for leases is Arcadia Offshore, the New Jersey company whose Delaware deal collapsed for lack of subsidies. Arcadia president Peter Mandelstam ...
... acknowledged that with historically low natural gas prices, no utility is likely to buy offshore wind power unless it’s required to do so by state regulators or lawmakers. The argument for investing in wind power is that it’s an emissions-free source of electricity with a fixed price, as opposed to wagering on natural gas, which could spike in price and strand consumers with soaring bills, he said.
You can say a lot of things about me, and people do, but one thing people can never say is that I missed an opportunity to suggest you look at some of my research.
*It has been a long time since we titled a post "A mighty wind" and I almost did it this time, but doesn't the thought of wind turbines in North Carolina send chills down your spine? No? What, are you some sort of hobgoblin?