Strong offshore winds could empower North Carolina’s clean energy economy

To learn about North Carolina’s energy production direction, look at weathercocks. I’m facing the wind.

Last year, Duke Energy, the state’s largest power company, and Dominion Energy, Virginia Stopped their efforts Build a 600-mile Atlantic pipeline. The $ 8 billion natural gas project would have linked North Carolina to fossil fuel-based energy for generations.

this month, Consultant report The state, prepared for the North Carolina Department of Commerce, said it is in a “good position” to move in a new direction by investing in the offshore wind industry, which is expected to grow rapidly in the coming decades. ..

Last week, President Joe Biden proposed $ 2 trillion infrastructure plan It will provide billions of dollars to develop clean energy, including making $ 3 billion in federal financing available for projects related to offshore wind development.

Politico explains Biden’s goal of producing 30 gigawatts of electricity from offshore wind turbines by 2030: “Grow the industry to the size of the entire New England electricity sector in nearly zero to ten years today.” did.

The governors of North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland have joined forces to make the state a leader in wind power. In 2020 they will Announced Wind Power Partnership.. It will coordinate the development of almost undeveloped energy sources off the east coast and the industries that support them.

What once seemed like a marginal and even fantasy source of energy, the windmills of the sea, has become a central part of national and state planning away from fossil fuels.Europe already has more installed 5,000 offshore wind turbiness Across 12 countries.

Drew Ball, head of the advocacy group Environment NC, said: Survey Environment According to the United States, North Carolina’s offshore wind resources are estimated to be able to provide 465% of the state’s total energy usage in 2019. “We were able to power our state more than four times with wind alone,” he said. “The wind is blowing. You need to take advantage of it.”

Building offshore wind turbines helps slow climate change and also reduces environmental damage by reducing the dirty process of extracting and transporting fossil fuels. Just last August, Pipeline violation He spilled about 1.2 million gallons of gasoline near Huntersville. Duke Energy customers will pay for years to help power companies clean their coal ash pits.

Wind power has its own environmental problems, but not on the scale of fossil fuels. As Ball pointed out, “No one has heard of an offshore wind outflow.”

Financial boost

Wind power has the potential to bring significant economic benefits not only to the environment, but also to the construction and maintenance of turbines. The Department of Commerce reports that North Carolina’s manufacturing department can develop coastal plants to produce wind turbine towers and blades that are large enough to be transported only by water.

“Wind energy represents a new job for North Carolina citizens,” said Machel Sanders, North Carolina’s Secretary of Commerce. “Today, clean energy represents the industry of the future, and North Carolina is always embracing the future, as biotechnology was to us many years ago.”

There are obstacles between North Carolina’s vision and reality as a leader in US offshore wind. For one thing, Biden’s huge infrastructure proposal will have to overcome Republican resistance in Congress. Republicans in Congress may find that opposition wind power has little political support. Polls show popular support for it, even among Republicans.

There are also legitimate concerns about how the construction and operation of large-scale offshore turbines will affect fisheries, wildlife, military flight and tourism. These concerns need to be addressed in consultation with stakeholders.

It’s still uncertain for North Carolina, but wind power is much closer to becoming one. There is no doubt where the pursuit of cleaner energy should go next. Go where the wind blows.