Archive for February 7th, 2013

Updates on wind energy in North Carolina

Posted on: February 7th, 2013 by shannon No Comments


On December 12, 2012, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced the release of the Call for Information and Nominations for potential offshore wind leasing areas offshore from North Carolina.  The call covers what we have known as areas 1, 2, and 5 – now dubbed Call Area Kitty Hawk, Call Area Wilmington East and Call Area Wilmington West (see map here).  Additionally, the Notice of Intent (NOI) to Prepare an Environmental Assessment covering these areas was released.  The public comment periods for the Call and the Notice of Intent originally closed on January 28th, but are now set to close on March 7th.  This was an important step for offshore wind in North Carolina and the N.C. Solar Center encourages everyone to submit comments to BOEM in support of moving forward with offshore wind in North Carolina – you can do so here for the Call and here for the Notice of Intent.

The Call areas were identified over the last several years through the work of the BOEM North Carolina State Task Force, of which the N.C. Solar Center is a member.  The areas, already vetted by many state, federal and local stakeholders, will continue to be refined based on responses received during the comment period and results of ongoing BOEM working groups.  Comments on the Call were received by BOEM during outreach meetings in Nags Head January 7th and Wilmington January 9th.  The N.C. Solar Center organized state-level speakers at these events to provide background information to the public – all presentations from the meetings are available at the BOEM website.

The responses to the Call will include nominations of interest from offshore wind developers and will provide a better understanding of where exactly we might see projects developed within these Call Areas.  One exciting comment letter already sent to BOEM is from Governor McCrory – stating his support for offshore wind development in the state as part of an “all of the above” energy approach.  The letter acknowledges the economic benefits North Carolina already sees through the onshore wind supply chain and the potential to expand manufacturing jobs in the state through offshore wind.  Governor McCrory’s support is a great signal that North Carolina can effectively move this industry forward in the coming years.

BOEM also held workshops on an offshore wind visual simulation study during the week of January 7th in Kitty Hawk and Wilmington.  The study covers 18 sites along the coast with views of a 200 turbine wind project (2 scenarios – Vestas V164 7.0 MW and Siemens ST-3.6-107 turbines with 1000 meter spacing) at 10, 15 and 20 nautical miles offshore.  Each site and scenario are shown under four different conditions – early morning, late afternoon, starlit night and foggy night. Time lapse videos are also available for a subset of the sites and scenarios.

A critical piece of this study is the meteorological report, which provides data on the average visibility for certain distances offshore in North Carolina, as well as specific data for visibility at each visualization site.  Overall, the report found that daytime visibility to 10 nm occurs at least 50 percent of the day, 34.8 percent of the time (127 days per year) and this drops to 27.3 percent of days during the summer.  It is important to reference the site specific data from the meteorological report when viewing the visualizations and assessing the visual impact of potential projects.

For those that missed the meetings, the simulations can be found online.  However, since the only way to properly view the large panoramas is in person (with the pictures curved to a specific angle and at a specific distance) – the Solar Center is working with BOEM to find a way to make these panoramas available at the coast for more stakeholders to view.  The Center will provide additional updates in the coming months as the BOEM process continues to move forward in the state.

NC proves Southeastern powerhouse for solar

Posted on: February 7th, 2013 by shannon No Comments


SNL Energy published a graph Wednesday that illustrates North Carolina’s opportunity in the solar industry — and what could be at stake if the N.C. General Assembly weakens the state’s commitment to it.

That wasn’t the point of the graph and story SNL published. As you can see here, the report is about 29.3 gigawatts of new power-generation capacity completed in the nation last year. The headline for SNL is that 14 gigawatts of that is in wind capacity — and that is big news.

Twenty-one of the 30 utility-scale solar projects in the Southeast last year were in North Carolina.

But if you look at the map, you will see that 30 utility-scale solar projects were built in the Southeast last year, and 21 of them were in North Carolina. That is more individual projects than in any other state (I count 18 in California). Of course, many of the N.C. projects were small, and the Southeast’s contribution of 130 megawatts of solar capacity is dwarfed by the 1,189 megawatts built in the West (they build big out there, particularly in Arizona).

But in the Southeast, North Carolina stands out way ahead of its neighbors. Florida, the Sunshine State, had three projects. So did Tennessee and Georgia, and that completes the region’s total.

A key factor, undoubtedly, is that North Carolina offers a state tax credit of 35 percent for renewable projects and mandates that utilities get at least some of the power they sell from renewable resources.


Incentive arguments

Both incentives are being questioned in the General Assembly, and action on both could occur before the new legislative session ends. There are reasonable arguments to be made about whether and how to subsidize renewable energy in general and solar power in particular. But projects on the drawing board make it likely that solar construction in the state next year will easily beat the latest annual total.

Companies from Pennsylvania, Florida, California and even Germany and Italy have begun developing projects here.

The state has gotten the attention of solar manufacturers that are interested in making their products close to their customers.

As the SNL report shows, it could be an industry in the making.


Written by John Downey, Charlotte Business Journal

N.C. Solar Center receives DOE grant to increase alternative fuel solutions across North Carolina

Posted on: February 7th, 2013 by shannon No Comments


Energy Award Supports NC Alternative Fuel Implementation Efforts


RALEIGH, N.C.– The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is supporting efforts led by the N.C. Solar Center at N.C. State University to expand the use of alternative fuel and advanced vehicle technologies with a $500,000 award for the Alternative Fuel Implementation Team (AFIT) for North Carolina Project. The AFIT project is a two-year collaboration of U.S. DOE designated Clean Cities coalitions in the Triangle, Charlotte and Asheville regions, Clean Cities coalitions in five nearby states, Advanced Energy and industry leaders such as the Biofuels Center of North Carolina, Duke Energy, Holmes Oil Co, the NC Propane Gas Association, Public Service North Carolina, and Piedmont Natural Gas.

The AFIT project is focused on reducing barriers to more widespread deployment of biofuels such as biodiesel and E85 (a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline), electric vehicles, natural gas and propane in public and private sector fleets. Fuel specific charettes will result in actions to accelerate the use of alternative transportation technology solutions to enhance North Carolina’s economy and environment. In year two, a petroleum displacement plan (PDP) toolkit will be developed to assist fleet managers and vehicle owners in making decisions on which alternatives will best support their mission and goals. The PDP toolkit will include cost/benefit criteria and best application options and scenarios for specific alternative fuels based on national and North Carolina specific parameters.

A Southeast Regional Alternative Fuels Conference will draw attendees from the nearby states of Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky. The two-day, North Carolina symposium will include sharing success stories and recognition awards. “We are very excited to have the opportunity to bring together all the key parties in the southeast to leverage our unique talents and common interests in providing transportation technology and policy solutions to energy and air quality concerns,” said Anne Tazewell, Transportation Program Manager at the N.C. Solar Center and the AFIT project lead. “We look forward to the results of a cleaner environment and more business opportunities for alternative fuels.”


About the North Carolina Solar Center

The North Carolina Solar Center, as part of the College of Engineering at North Carolina State University (NCSU) advances a sustainable energy economy by educating, demonstrating and providing support for clean energy technologies, practices, and policies. It serves as a resource for innovative, green energy technologies through technology demonstration, technical assistance, outreach and training. For more information about the N.C. Solar Center visit:  Twitter: @NCSolarCenter


Contact: Shannon Helm, N.C. Solar Center, 919-423-8340,