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, according to a comprehensive new report released today by the North Carolina Department of Commerce.
The publication of the report from BVG Associates marks the latest step in Governor Cooper’s far-reaching commitment to build a clean energy economy to fight climate change and grow clean-energy jobs in North Carolina.
BVG Associates (BVGA), a consulting company with extensive wind energy experience, forecasts the U.S. east coast will see a total offshore installed capacity exceeding 40 gigawatts (GW) by 2035. Reaching this level of capacity will require a manufacturing ecosystem to supply component parts for at least two dozen utility-scale wind farms.
To reach the capacity targets for wind projects already publicly announced by states and site developers, BVGA expects the industry will invest $140 billion by 2035 to establish and build out its supply chain, install equipment, and operate the wind facilities. BVGA forecasts North Carolina manufacturers can address and supply equipment for the entire east coast market, not just for projects directly off the state’s coast.
“Wind energy means new jobs for North Carolinians,” said Machelle Sanders, North Carolina’s Commerce Secretary. “Just like biotechnology was for us many years ago, today clean energy represents an industry of the future and North Carolina always embraces the future.”
The North Carolina Office of Science, Technology, & Innovation, an operating unit of the Commerce Department, led the study project for the state and commissioned the report. The BVGA lead team included experts from Lloyds Register Energy Americas, Timmons Group, and North Carolina State University and its NC Clean Energy Technology Center.
BVG Associates, headquartered near London with offices in Glasgow, Scotland and Richmond, Virginia, conducted an extensive assessment of the state’s strategic position for the offshore wind industry. In addition to the market analysis, BVG researched and is developing an inventory of businesses, organizations, and physical infrastructure best positioned to promote offshore wind (OSW) development in North Carolina. The report finds that North Carolina has multiple port and water-front properties well-suited to support the OSW industry currently developing off the U.S. East Coast. The state also has a fully integrated, up-to-date high-capacity intermodal transport system consisting of rail, road, inland waterways, and coastal waterways that connects well to North Carolina’s coastline and adjoining states.
The company’s report includes recommendations for actions the state might take to leverage the emerging OSW opportunity. The company developed a similar study for the State of Virginia.
North Carolina already features one approved Wind Energy Area (WEA) under lease for development. The Kitty Hawk WEA, located 24 nautical miles from Corolla, is projected to be able to support 2,500 megawatts of electricity generation, which would be enough to power approximately 700,000 homes.
The publication of today’s report sends an important signal to OSW developers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) that North Carolina is committed to the industry, both as a location for wind energy projects as well as an ideal manufacturing location for projects along the entire eastern seaboard.
The new assessment is part of the ongoing work to implement Governor Cooper’s Clean Energy Plan for the state.
In October 2018, Governor Cooper signed Executive Order 80 to reaffirm North Carolina’s commitment to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions and support the expansion of clean energy businesses. Among other actions, the executive order directed the Department of Commerce to support the expansion of clean energy businesses and service providers, encourage clean technology investment, and support companies seeking to procure renewable energy. On October 1, 2019, the Department of Commerce published an extensive workforce assessment for the clean energy and clean transportation industry sectors. On October 29, 2020 the governors of Maryland and Virginia joined Governor Cooper to announce a three-state framework to advance offshore wind projects, known as the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Regional Transformative Partnership for Offshore Wind Energy Resources (SMART-POWER).