The NC Clean Energy Technology Center partners on inaugural NSF Engines Development Award to fund ‘Clean Carolinas’ 

Funding to help Carolinas achieve a carbon neutral economy by 2050

Raleigh, NC – (May 11, 2023) The NC Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) at NC State University is a key partner on “Clean Carolinas,” a $1 million, 2-year grant project funded under the new National Science Foundation Regional Innovation Engines program.  To meet the NSF Engines program’s goals, the Clean Carolinas project is designed to foster innovation and collaboration, stimulating economic growth and job creation in North and South Carolina through clean energy technology, including offshore wind, solar photovoltaic, clean hydrogen and marine energy. Along with NCCETC, the project team, led by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, includes East Carolina University, Clemson University, Fayetteville State University, Elizabeth City State University, NC A&T State University, the Coastal Studies Institute, and E4 Carolinas.  Leveraging the team’s research and development expertise, the project will mobilize and support local governments, community organizations, and clean energy businesses to grow and sustain this sector, supporting the state’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The initiative’s activities will lay a pathway for clean energy innovation leadership in the Carolinas through a focus on technology acceleration, research and development on disruptive technologies and workforce development.

The NCCETC will lead collaboration related to training and workforce efforts for marine and other clean energy technologies under the proposed project framework. This work will include hosting and leading workshops to bring together the relevant education, training and industry community stakeholders to explore and accelerate the development of curricula, training formats and delivery platforms to support clean energy goals, energy justice, and workforce development.  The North Carolina Department of Commerce and the South Carolina Research Authority are two important partnering organizations whose mission will be supported by the Clean Carolinas project.

Together with the rest of the collaborative team, the NCCETC will prioritize service to diverse populations and communities, including emphasizing expanded participation in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs by underrepresented groups and pinpointing well-paying employment opportunities for economically distressed areas.  “Our goal is for more of the clean energy technologies, such as wind turbines and towers, that are instrumental to North Carolina’s clean energy future, to be developed and made here in North Carolina,” said Isaac Panzarella an Associate Director at the NCCETC.  “Making this happen means that we need to train skilled tradespeople, engineers and scientists, retain them here in the Carolinas, and support expansion of infrastructure and manufacturing, especially in areas around and east of I-95 that have a huge potential and clear need for economic growth”.

The NCCETC is also tied to the recently awarded federal EDA $23.7 million grant award under the “Good Jobs” program, called STEPs4GROWTH (Successful Training and Effective Partnerships for Growing Opportunities in the Workforce To Harness). Under STEPs4GROWTH (led by NC A&T State University), NCCETC is the “backbone organization” to coordinate the development and operation of apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs for solar, wind and bioenergy technologies in the rural targeted regions of North Carolina. For this NSF project, NCCETC will serve as a link between these two critical workforce activities for the technology areas of offshore wind and solar.

The Clean Carolinas team is one of 40 awardees nationwide under the NSF Engines program that spans a broad range of states and regions, reaching geographic areas that have not fully benefited from the technology boom of the past decades. These NSF Engines Development Awards will help organizations create connections and develop their local innovation ecosystems within two years to prepare strong proposals for becoming future NSF Engines, which will each have the opportunity to receive up to $160 million. Launched by NSF’s new Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships and authorized by the “CHIPS and Science Act of 2022,” the NSF Engines program uniquely harnesses the nation’s science and technology research and development enterprise and regional-level resources. NSF Engines aspire to catalyze robust partnerships to positively impact regional economies, accelerate technology development, address societal challenges, advance national competitiveness and create local, high-wage jobs. View a map of the NSF Engines Development Awards. More information can be found on the NSF Engines program website.  More information about the Clean Carolinas Initiative can be found in the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s media release. 


The N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center, as part of the College of Engineering at North Carolina State University, 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, sustainable energy technologies through technology demonstration, technical assistance, outreach and training. For more information about the  Center, visit: Twitter: @NCCleanTech

Media Contact: Shannon Helm, NCCETC,