State News

OBX could become source of wind energy

Posted September 25, 2009
Updated September 28, 2009

— Gov. Beverly Perdue and other state leaders were on hand as researchers gave a presentation introducing an Outer Banks community to the idea of massive offshore wind farms.

Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill described a new study that found 2,800 square miles of coastal water, including the Pamlico Sound, could generate industrial-scale wind energy.

(See the areas of North Carolina that could be used for wind farms.)

"I believe North Carolina has the capacity to position herself to be a leader in global energy," Perdue said.

The public meeting in Buxton was packed, with islanders making up about half the crowd.

Denmark Offshore Wind Farm OBX could become source of wind energy

Researchers said that if all the usable waters are fully developed, offshore wind farms could supply 130 percent of all the power used by North Carolina in 2007. The industry could also create as many as 9,000 local jobs by 2030.

"This is among the best wind resources on the East Coast," said Dr. Harvey Seim, a marine-sciences professor at UNC.

Seim said that a pilot site could be in the Pamlico Sound, about 10 miles west of Avon and northwest of Buxton.

Researchers also discussed the potential impacts of a wind farm on the coast's economy, quality of life and environment.

Senate leader Marc Basnight, D-Dare County, said that he wouldn't fight offshore wind farms, although he is sensitive to concerns that wind turbines could disrupt the tourism industry on which the region depends.

The wind turbines would be 300 to 500 feet tall and could be visible from the coast.

"Change does not come easy to me or to the people of this island," Basnight said.

He wouldn't want to turbines to break up views of the sun rising from the ocean, Basnight said, but global warming could inundate the region if alternative energy sources aren't exploited.

Tourists at the meeting viewed wind energy favorably but said they had the least stake in the question.

"I think wind turbines are probably a great source of energy," visitor Colin Christen said. "It's up to the locals to decide that kind of thing."

Wind generates about 1 percent of the country's electricity but is the fastest-growing type of renewable power.

Along North Carolina's coast, the Outer Banks Brewing Station uses wind to generate about 10 percent of its power. The National Park Service uses wind to power at the Coquina Beach Bathhouse and plans to do the same at Jockey's Ridge State Park.

The UNC study, which was commissioned by the General Assembly, recommended that the state "aggressively pursue" offshore wind farms. Researchers said the state should study what upgrades to the electrical system might be needed, loosen regulations on development in state waters, create incentives for wind power and continue to study coastal winds.

Technology will also need to be improved to strengthen wind turbines against hurricanes. Turbines being built today are designed to withstand up to a Category 3 storm.

55 Comments

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  • MSN93 Sep 25, 6:52 p.m.

    No drilling for oil!! Wind power sounds like a feasible option, but I'd like to learn more. I am totally opposed to oil platforms, refineries, tankers, etc., along our beautiful coastline.

  • SteamTrain Sep 25, 6:40 p.m.

    I know the Nature Conservancy was working out west (I think in Kansas) to plot the overlap of game-bird breeding grounds with wind farm sites so the power companies could avoid putting up towers in sensative areas. I think they've also done some similar in SW Minnesota (some too late). The advantage for the power comapny is that they can target less sensitive areas and get less legal opposisiton

    The same could be done for the proposed OBX sites. Major migratory routes plotted ahead of time and avoided. (Too bad they won't affect our non-migratory geese.)

  • Heel from Hell Sep 25, 4:38 p.m.

    Raptor06...granted on both counts. Thanks for the suggestion. I'll take a look.

    These days, anything that can become a net export for NC is a good thing.

  • blackdog Sep 25, 4:33 p.m.

    Being from this area and an avid (sometimes rabid) hunter I just wonder what effect these would have on the HUGE migration of Ducks and Geese that visit the area annually.

    ROFL...

  • C6-YA Sep 25, 4:14 p.m.

    Hmm... wonder if they are Hurricane proof.

  • Raptor06 Sep 25, 3:19 p.m.

    "Fourth, solar is eco-unfriendly to make."...hi-i-am-wade

    This is a great country because we chose not to follow the easy path. For instance, while stationed in the military there, I learned that German uses much more solar power than the US, and they receive less sunlight than NC. We as a people used to look at a challenge and figure out how to overcome it. Now, it seems we are more easily swayed by the naysayers. We would have never gone to the moon if this attitude had been in force during the 60s. It's a shame it's so evident now when we need new visions and hard work to achieve our goals.

  • Raptor06 Sep 25, 2:50 p.m.

    "Fortunately, technology has advanced to the point where we can make this thing a reality. That said, we shouldn't delude ourselves into thinking that wind and solar can be anything more than supplementary providers. As giant as it was, the "monster" would have provided enough energy for 300-500 homes"...Heel from Hell

    You need to do more reading about this subject. Current technology is light-years ahead of what ever happened during the Reagan administration. Try to catch this topic on "Modern Marvels" which is broadcasted on the history channel. The can-do American spirit is a live and well in this technological area.

  • patrick85ed Sep 25, 2:33 p.m.

    Being from this area and an avid (sometimes rabid) hunter I just wonder what effect these would have on the HUGE migration of Ducks and Geese that visit the area annually.

  • Heel from Hell Sep 25, 2:16 p.m.

    We need only to look to the NC mountains for an indication of the result/reaction. Does anyone remember the NASA windmill on Howards Knob in Boone? It was a monster...about 10 stories, 350 tons, and purported to generate 2000kW. Unfortunately, the 100 ft blades were too heavy to turn in a 25 mph wind.

    The Reagan administration yanked funding because the dang thing didn't work. I still remember watching that thing come down the hill piece-by-piece.

    Fortunately, technology has advanced to the point where we can make this thing a reality. That said, we shouldn't delude ourselves into thinking that wind and solar can be anything more than supplementary providers. As giant as it was, the "monster" would have provided enough energy for 300-500 homes.

  • Joe Average Sep 25, 2:05 p.m.

    @ Frizz

    Yea your right..

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