The North Carolina Offshore Wind Supply Chain Registry: Helping N.C. Capture the Investment and Jobs Potential from The East Coast’s Coming Offshore Wind Boom

Since the fall, the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) has been actively involved in a project for the N.C. Department of Commerce to study the potential economic development, supply chain, and workforce opportunities offered by the burgeoning East Coast offshore wind (OSW) industry.  

 As a part of the work, Commerce has recently opened the North Carolina Offshore Wind Supply Chain Registry which allows companies in N.C. and beyond to publicly indicate their interest and ability to supply components and services from North Carolina to OSW projects. Supply chain components include everything from blades, towers, cables, steel and other wind turbine parts, as well as the infrastructure needed to bring the power ashore like transmission and substation equipment.  Services include things like transport and assembly of components, construction staging and site-related work like geotechnical analysis. 

The registry is a resource for companies looking to buy from and partner with North Carolina-based firms as well as a way to indicate an interest in siting new manufacturing in N.C. to serve these OSW developments.  It is especially important for North Carolina companies who wish to supply components to the offshore wind industry to include their company information in the registry, so assistance from NCCETC, Commerce and other agencies can be offered.

The Registry is part of a larger effort examining the potential impact of OSW supply chain development on N.C.  In the summer, the N.C. Department of Commerce hired consulting firm BVG Associates, with partners including the NCCETC, Lloyd’s Register Energy Americas, Timmons Group and NCSU’s Economic Development Partnership Office, to begin an Offshore Wind Supply Chain and Infrastructure Assessment Study as many other eastern seaboard states have done. The work is being done to look at North Carolina’s potential as an offshore wind industry hub.

 The offshore wind study addresses economic development gaps, how to grow the offshore wind supply chain (development, construction, operation, and maintenance) and infrastructure (turbine, generators, foundations, and other component parts), and ensure the appropriate workforce is in place. The study is expected to be completed by the beginning of 2021 and helps send the signal to OSW firms that North Carolina is open for business.

 Wood Mackenzie calculated that the eastern seaboard could support 28 GW of offshore wind development and generate $1.2 billion in revenue. That estimate shows the importance of not just developing a single state’s offshore wind resource, but also collaboration with other states who stand to benefit from this clean energy source. In that spirit, the governors of Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia recently announced that they would work together  to advance offshore wind projects and promote the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic United States as an offshore wind industry hub.

This Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Regional Transformative Partnership for Offshore Wind Energy Resources (SMART-POWER) – as it is being called –  provides Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina a framework for promoting and expanding offshore wind energy, the supply chain and its workforce. The three states have also formed a Leadership Team so that they work together collaboratively.

In N.C. specifically, Avangrid Renewables is currently developing the Kitty Hawk project at what is the first offshore wind lease area to be secured off North Carolina for a capacity of 2 GW, but there are more opportunities for offshore wind leases. In fact, Duke Energy in its recent IRP filing indicated a “high wind” path that would capture the offshore wind potential of North Carolina’s coast, but it depends on investment in supply chain and transmission capacity – issues that the study aims to address.

 The Center is excited about its contributions to developing North Carolina’s offshore wind industry hub and stands ready to assist the state develop its abundant clean energy resource.