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Report: Offshore wind farms could net billions for NC, but obstacles remain

Altogether, tracts off of the Carolinas could mean $45 billion in investment, the report reads. But interest has been lower in tracts off the Carolinas for several reasons, including “a lack of an offshore mandate … lower power prices, and lower capacity factors.”

As plans move forward when it comes to North Carolina’s first offshore wind farm, industry insiders are already looking ahead to the next lease.

A slew of wind groups in conjunction with research firm Wood Mackenzie released a recent report highlighting the challenges, however – and it really comes down to policy.

Erik Milito, president of the National Ocean Industries Association (one of the report’s sponsors), says additional development along North Carolina’s coast is a matter of when, not if.

Already, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has divided up the ocean waters off the East Coast into tracts, including three near North Carolina.

“We’re just waiting for them to move forward and have these auctions,” he said.

In 2017, Avangrid won one of those auctions – the first and only for a tract for lease off the Carolina coast so far – to someday develop a wind farm off the Outer Banks.

But two other tracts have been identified by the federal government, known as Wilmington West and Wilmington East. The three combine to make up more than 1.2 million acres of federal waters.

Further south, four have been identified off of South Carolina known as Grand... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

As plans move forward when it comes to North Carolina’s first offshore wind farm, industry insiders are already looking ahead to the next lease.

A slew of wind groups in conjunction with research firm Wood Mackenzie released a recent report highlighting the challenges, however – and it really comes down to policy.

Erik Milito, president of the National Ocean Industries Association (one of the report’s sponsors), says additional development along North Carolina’s coast is a matter of when, not if.

Already, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has divided up the ocean waters off the East Coast into tracts, including three near North Carolina.

“We’re just waiting for them to move forward and have these auctions,” he said.

In 2017, Avangrid won one of those auctions – the first and only for a tract for lease off the Carolina coast so far  – to someday develop a wind farm off the Outer Banks.

But two other tracts have been identified by the federal government, known as Wilmington West and Wilmington East. The three combine to make up more than 1.2 million acres of federal waters.

Further south, four have been identified off of South Carolina known as Grand Strand, Cape Romain, Charleston and Winyah, combining to make up nearly 854,000 acres.

Altogether, tracts off of the Carolinas could mean $45 billion in investment, the report reads.

But interest has been lower in tracts off the Carolinas for several reasons, including “a lack of an offshore mandate … lower power prices, and lower capacity factors.”

“However, if relevant policy was in place to improve offshore wind projects… 30 percent of the North Carolina wind energy areas and 50 percent of South Carolina call areas could go to BOEM lease auction in 2021,” the report reads.

Combined, they could support 11.5 gigawatts of offshore wind development from 2025 to 2030, according to the report.

Milito suspects the feds have delayed additional auctions as environmental work is conducted on projects in the northeast. That way they can have a “defensible record” to stand on when it comes to analyzing the impact of future projects, including those off the Carolina coast.

But a build-out will take a long time, even with a lease. And in North Carolina, it’s complicated by policies that require an extensive permitting process. North Carolina doesn’t have what’s driving many Northeastern states to invest in offshore wind: clean energy programs requiring a percentage of their energy to come from renewable sources.

“As part of that, those states are requiring the procurement of offshore wind energy for their power grids so they can meet those clean energy goals… they’ve done that through their legislatures,” Milito said. “They’ve passed laws to make that happen and they’ve also, at the same time, moved forward with the allocation of money to build out the ports, build out the infrastructure.”

For offshore wind development to really kick off in North Carolina, a similar effort may be required here, he said.

In the meantime, the technology continues to advance.

Milito said it wasn’t that long ago that turbines were 8 megawatts. Today, they can churn out 14 megawatts, “a huge difference.” That allows for projects to account for less turbines and make even less of an environmental impact, he said.

“You’re looking at a lease sale and a project being completed that could take five to seven years,” Milito said. “In that timeframe, technology will continue to advance at a rapid pace.”

Nationwide, the report estimates that investment in the U.S. offshore wind industry will be $17 billion by 2025, $108 billion by 2030 and $166 billion by 2035. From 2022 to 2035, capital investment of $42 billion will go to turbine manufacturers and the supply chain, $107 billion will go to the construction industry, and $8 billion will go to the transportation industry and ports.


Source: https://www.bizjournals.com...

AUG 10 2020
http://www.windaction.org/posts/51570-report-offshore-wind-farms-could-net-billions-for-nc-but-obstacles-remain
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