North Carolina Organizing for Its Offshore Wind Industry

North Carolina, like many states along the eastern seaboard, is trying to bolster its offshore wind energy. The U.S. Department of Energy notes that North Carolina's coast has more offshore wind potential than any other state along the Atlantic Coast, particularly in Kitty Hawk, Wilmington-West, and Wilmington-East.

The eastern seaboard of the United States supports up to 28 GW of offshore wind development. While developing a single state's offshore wind resource is important, collaboration with other states who stand to benefit from this clean energy source is also vitally important. In that spirit, the governors of Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia recently announced that they would work together to advance offshore wind projects and promote the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic United States as an offshore wind industry hub.

Duke Energy's latest Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) also evaluates offshore wind as a potential energy resource. In particular, its scenario of 70 percent CO2 Reduction: High Wind and No New Gas Generation portfolios includes more than 2,400 MW of offshore wind, which will be imported into the Carolinas. The N.C. Utilities Commission is currently evaluating Duke Energy's IRP.

Finally, the N.C. Department of Commerce, Board of Science, Technology, and Innovation initiated an offshore wind study for North Carolina that was completed on March 3. The goals of the study included: (1) characterizing the wind opportunity for the state; (2) assessing North Carolina's assets and business potential; (3) reviewing business incentives and policy gaps; and finally, (4) looking at North Carolina's ports. The consulting firm BVG Associates has a long history of this type of work; in fact, it completed a similar study for the Commonwealth of Virginia only a year ago.

The high-level results of the study include the following:

  • The importance of strategically positioning North Carolina by leveraging the state's manufacturing roots. The onshore wind energy industry already has a strong supply chain presence in North Carolina, with more than 70 active suppliers and nearly 30 of them producing components for the wind power sector. Although that production is focused on the onshore wind industry, it clearly indicates the flexibility and commitment of North Carolina companies to pursue new markets.
  • Special consideration of policies to accelerate the offshore wind industry through options, such as an offshore wind target - as other New England states and the Commonwealth of Virginia have done, a procurement mechanism, a renewable energy equipment manufacturing tax credit, or other incentive support.
  • Targeted efforts for North Carolina's workforce. North Carolina workforce recommendations encompass manufacturing ideas to promote and specifically target existing programs, as well as construction, operation, and maintenance ideas focused on developing a clear understanding of needs and identifying existing training and gaps.
  • The importance of addressing one of North Carolina's largest weaknesses when entering the offshore wind marketplace - the lack of existing designated port facilities. North Carolina ports are not well located to support BOEM Lease Areas. But there are several properties that could be effectively redeveloped to support the OSW uses, including Radio Island, Southport/North Carolina International Terminal, Wilmington Business Park/Vertex Property, and the North Property.

North Carolina has already launched an Offshore Wind Supply Chain Registry database. This will facilitate business opportunities to promote companies offering or considering offering products and services to encourage business partnerships, and to provide developers and OEMs easy access to the North Carolina supply chain. With the completion of the offshore wind study and a clear presentation of how to move the industry forward, North Carolina is poised to lead in this clean energy resource. Leyline Renewable Capital stands ready to assist as offshore wind project development takes shape.

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