Posts Tagged ‘wind energy’

Onshore Wind

Posted on: April 17th, 2011 by shannonhelm

North Carolina has great onshore wind resources – both in the mountains and at the coast.  The Department of Energy’s (DOE) potential scenario for reaching 20 percent of the U.S. electricity needs with wind by 2030 includes North Carolina as one of only eight states with over 10 gigawatts (GW) of wind energy capacity installed.  This capacity would include both offshore and onshore wind, but the reality of this scenario happening in North Carolina will be based on land-use decisions and policies for wind development over the next 20 years.  Based on 2010 estimates from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, North Carolina has an onshore wind resource of 1500 megawatts (MW) for sites with potential capacity factors of 30 percent or greater.

The economic development potential from onshore wind for North Carolina is substantial.  Based on DOE estimates, if N.C. were to have 1,000 MW of wind development, it would create 1,628 direct jobs during the construction phase and then 243 new direct long term jobs.  The cumulative economic benefit to N.C. for construction and 20 years of operation for this wind energy would be $1.1 billion from jobs, lease payments, increased tax revenue, indirect benefits (for example – revenue for companies that support the wind development) and induced benefits (for example – increased spending in the surrounding community).  North Carolina has the potential to increase these benefits if North Carolina manufacturing facilities were to supply the turbine components.

With a project recently proposed by Iberdrola Renewables, North Carolina is on the way to having its first utility scale wind turbines.  The 300 MW project, which would be located in Pasquotank and Perquimans Counties, is expected to provide enough electricity to power 55,000 to 70,000 homes.  Since the project will be sited on 20,000 acres of private land, the lease payments to local landowners could be up to $1 million per year for the next 20 – 25 years.  In addition to these lease payments, the landowners will be able to continue to farm the land around the turbines.  The construction of the project is anticipated to begin in late 2011 or early 2012 and would create over 400 jobs for the local community.

Expected economic benefits from 1000 MW of wind in NC.

Expected economic benefits from 1000 MW of wind in NC.

2010 NREL map of NC wind resource at 80 meters height

2010 NREL map of NC wind resource at 80 meters height


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Wind Energy

Posted on: April 17th, 2011 by shannonhelm

Wind energy development is growing rapidly in the United States, with utility scale projects installed in 39 states as of early 2015 and smaller wind turbines in all 50 states. The U.S. wind energy industry has added over 25,000 MW of capacity in the past five years, bringing the cumulative capacity to over 65,000 MW by the end of 2014.

Currently, wind energy accounts for about 4.5 percent of the U.S. electricity production, with 17 states generating more than five percent of their electricity form wind. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) estimates that the U.S. onshore wind potential is over 10,000 gigawatts (GW) in areas with capacity factors at or above 30 percent. For offshore wind, the Department of Interior estimates that over 4,000 GW of offshore wind potential exist in the oceans and Great Lakes. Only a portion of this potential will be necessary for wind energy to supply a substantial portion of the U.S.’s electricity needs. The Department of Energy’s 20% Wind Energy by 2030 report determined that it would require approximately 300 GW of wind capacity, including 54 GW of offshore wind, for wind to reach 20 percent of the U.S. electricity needs in the year 2030. The Department of Energy Projects that by 2050 the United States could meet 35 percent of its energy needs with wind while also achieving a two percent reduction in electricity costs.

Aside from the many environmental benefits of wind energy – including improved air quality and water savings from the energy sector – communities across the country are excited about wind energy’s economic development potential. As of early 2015 the Department of Energy reports that there are over 600,000 wind-related jobs spread all across the country, while wind businesses directly support over 50,500 jobs.


Wind Energy Facts and Resources:

Economic Impacts Factsheet
Wildlife & Environmental Impacts Factsheet
Health Impacts Factsheet
Grid & Military Impacts Factsheet




This wind farm has a chance

Posted on: April 5th, 2011 by admin No Comments

Story by: Raleigh News & Observer

A proposal to build a 300-megawatt wind energy farm in the northeast corner of North Carolina has so far cleared a major milestone that has long eluded wind power in this state: It has generated no organized opposition.

Indeed, the lack of controversy prompted the N.C. Utilities Commission to cancel a portion of today’s public hearings in Raleigh that had been set aside to hear expert testimony from accountants and engineers.

Instead, the commission will hear from citizens about the proposal to erect up to 150 turbines, each structure nearly 500 feet tall from ground level to outstretched blade tip, on 31 square miles of farmland.

The $600 million Desert Wind Energy Project near Elizabeth City in Pasquotank and Perquimans counties would be the state’s first commercial-scale wind farm and one of the biggest in the nation. It would generate enough electricity to power between 55,000 and 70,000 homes.

Much smaller proposals in this state had been withdrawn in recent years, facing contentious opposition campaigns and public protests. The state legislature attempted to ban large-scale wind projects in the Appalachian Mountains, and coastal Carteret County enacted a moratorium on wind turbines.

Now, after two years of planning, the sprawling Desert Wind Energy Project is still alive and pending before a dozen government agencies, but it has yet to receive its first permit from federal, state or local authorities.

Construction, which would take nearly a year, would employ more than 400 workers, and the project would be operated and maintained by a crew of about 20, earning an average annual wage of $80,000.

Iberdrola, the Spanish company that’s proposing to develop the wind farm, has built more than 40 large wind farms in the U.S. over the past decade. Coastal North Carolina is considered to have some of the choicest wind resources on the East Coast, and Iberdrola is considering other parts of the state for development potential if it can successfully develop its Desert Wind project.

“North Carolina, in particular the area where we’re looking, meets the criteria we look for in any project,” said Iberdrola spokesman Paul Copleman. “People haven’t seen these before, they’re new to the state, and that inevitably raises questions on what it means to operate a wind farm.”

Not a tourist in sight

Iberdrola, the world’s largest wind developer, first set up wind monitors in 2009 to test wind speeds. It has held community meetings and participated in public hearings.

Unlike previous wind farm developers, Iberdrola has stayed clear of tourist areas and focused on sparsely populated tracts. The scrubland identified for the proposed wind farm is locally known as The Desert.

“If you drive out there you would think you were in Kansas,” said Wayne Harris, director of the region’s Albemarle Economic Development Commission. “It’s just absolutely flat, and there’s nothing but farmland.”

The company, operating in the U.S. through its Oregon-based subsidiary called Atlantic Wind, expects to spend the rest of the year seeking approval from a half-dozen N.C. agencies, including the N.C. Utilities Commission and the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Plus, Iberdrola has to get clearance from a pair of federal agencies as well as three branches of the U.S. armed forces.

Iberdrola will have to assure authorities the giant wind turbines don’t interfere with wildlife habitats, bird migration patterns or military flight routes, among other concerns.

The Iberdrola project would benefit from a federal cash grant that would cover 30 percent of the cost. At the earliest, construction would begin late this year and be completed at the end of 2012.

A boon to farmers

Iberdrola does not yet have customers lined up to buy the electricity it plans to generate, but the company is in discussions with Progress Energy, Duke Energy and other regional power suppliers for possible long-term power contracts. The utilities are all required by state law to buy renewable electricity generated by wind, sunshine and agricultural waste.

“Our initial assessment is that the project is economically viable and would provide renewable energy for our customers at a competitive price,” Progress spokesman Mike Hughes said.

Among those benefiting from the project will be farmers who allow Iberdrola to erect the towers on their property. Each tower will generate about $6,000 in annual rental income for the property owner, and the farmers will be able to continue working their land around the structures.

“For the farmers, these wind farms are a tremendous windfall,” Harris said.