SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Learn About Offshore Wind
The Southeastern U.S. coast is home to some of the best offshore wind resources in the world. This abundant resource represents a huge opportunity over the next several decades to develop the as yet untapped economic and environmental benefits. The relatively shallow offshore waters in our region are ideal for wind farms. The manufacturing base our region offers is well suited for such an industry to develop. In the drive towards a clean energy future, no single technology represents as much near-to-medium term potential as commercial scale offshore wind energy technology for our region. The coastal states of North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia are currently in varying stages of offshore wind farm development. Before our region can become home to offshore wind farms and a thriving center for wind innovation, important research needs to be done and several barriers overcome. Initial steps underway include:
- Charleston has been selected to be the national site for a state-of-the-art drive-train testing facility for large wind turbines through a partnership involving Clemson University, the Ports Authority, and other state agencies in South Carolina.
- Santee Cooper, the South Carolina Energy Office, Coastal Carolina University and others are undertaking research to measure the wind and wave conditions, iron out regulatory requirements, and study the transmission needs to make a 80-MW offshore wind project a reality in state owned waters.
- Southern Company continues to move forward with its plans to apply to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management for a permit to test feasibility for a wind farm off the Georgia coast for which they have been given a temporary option to lease.
- The states of Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina, together with Georgia Institute of Technology, University of North Carolina, and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, have developed mapping tools for public use and studied regional transmission infrastructure for ocean-based renewable energy.
These events signify the start of offshore wind development in our region. The Southeast can look to offshore wind to help our country meet its vision of generating 20% of the nation’s energy from wind power by the year 2030.
Benefits of Offshore Wind Energy
We in the Southeast stand to gain from the many benefits of offshore wind energy. The same offshore wind that is prevalent in our region can help lift us out of our dependence on foreign fuels. In addition to increasing our energy security, development of offshore wind energy will diversify our region’s energy portfolio, promote local economic growth, reduce global warming pollution and conserve water resources for our region.
Barriers to Overcome
To take advantage of the economic and environmental benefits of offshore wind energy, our region will need to overcome barriers in an accelerated timeframe. These include regulatory and educational barriers, including understanding impacts to ratepayers, the electric grid, and the ocean ecology. Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is available to assist regional states and coastal communities coordinate their efforts to ensure this work is implemented in a strategic and constructive manner, resulting in accelerated deployment of this important renewable energy technology.