A new report shows that Atlantic states could power the entire region with clean renewable wind energy off our coasts. North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland rank eighth, 15th and 17th respectively, among 29 coastal states for their potential to meet 2019 electricity usage with offshore wind according to the new report. These three states could provide 283 percent of their 2019 electricity usage and 137 percent of their 2050 projections with offshore wind alone. For projections of 2050 electricity demand, the report assumes that U.S. buildings, industry and transportation will all be powered by electricity rather than fossil fuels.
The new report was co-released Thursday, March 18, by partner organizations Environment Maryland, Environment North Carolina, and Environment Virginia Research & Policy Centers and the Frontier Group. The report, Offshore Wind for America, examines U.S. offshore wind potential by coastal region and by state, while documenting the status of existing projects and technological advances.
In October of 2019, the governors of Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia announced a three-state collaboration to advance offshore wind projects in the region and promote the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic United States as a hub for offshore wind energy and industry. The creation of the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Regional Transformative Partnership for Offshore Wind Energy Resources (SMART-POWER) provides a framework for the three states to cooperatively promote, develop, and expand offshore wind energy and the accompanying industry supply chain and workforce.
In early March, the North Carolina Department of Commerce released a comprehensive report, Building North Carolina’s Offshore Wind Supply Chain, that showed “North Carolina stands well positioned to attract a significant portion of a more than $100 billion market opportunity from the growing offshore wind energy industry.”
We know that harnessing the massive potential of wind off our coast is a huge component of transitioning our state to 100% clean energy. North Carolina has some of the greatest potential for offshore wind in the country. Offshore wind is a proven, clean, affordable and reliable energy source. We can’t afford not to take advantage of that potential.
“Development of our offshore wind industry is critical to achieving a clean energy grid and will create tens of thousands of well-paying U.S. jobs in the process,” said Sam Salustro, director of Coalitions and Strategic Partnerships at the Business Network for Offshore Wind. “To fully harness the economic and environmental benefits offshore wind offers, the U.S. must work to develop the local supply chain and support continued collaboration between states and regions.”
In addition to highlighting states that stand to provide the most offshore wind power relative to their electricity usage, the report also highlights how the success and growth of offshore wind globally in Europe and Asia has supported the continued advancements of offshore wind technologies. Turbine power and efficiency continue to improve, while the introduction of floating turbines will be crucial for expanding offshore wind potential in states with especially deep coastal water, such as Maine and California.
Offshore Wind for America reminds us that offshore wind can and will rise to the occasion of meeting our energy needs right here in North Carolina. This incredible resource is still largely untapped, but we have the chance to take advantage of it and build a resilient green future for North Carolina. Now is the time to go big on offshore wind.
Drew Ball is state director with Environment North Carolina Research & Policy Center, an agency dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces.