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North Carolina Seeks to Lead the U.S. in Offshore Wind Development 

North Carolina offshore wind development
(file photo)

Published Jun 10, 2021 7:48 PM by The Maritime Executive

North Carolina reaffirmed its commitment to offshore wind energy as part of the overall race to develop the United States’ offshore renewable energy resources. Governor Roy Cooper issued an executive order highlighting North Carolina’s commitment to offshore wind power as part of the industry’s estimated $140 billion investment over the next 15 years to develop projects from North Carolina up the Atlantic Coast.

“Offshore wind power will help North Carolina create jobs and generate economic development while helping us transition to a clean energy economy,” said Governor Cooper signing the order. He established offshore wind development goals of 2.8 gigawatts along the North Carolina coast by 2030 and 8 GW by 2040. President Joe Biden’s plans call for the U.S. to generate a total of 30 GW by 2030 from offshore wind sources up from a current total of just 42 MW.

Achieving North Carolina’s goals, the governor estimates will power roughly 2.3 million homes by 2040. It will also help to achieve a 70 percent reduction in power sector greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050. 

“This coordinated approach to developing our offshore wind supply chain will bring new jobs to North Carolina for generations to come,” said North Carolina Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders. “From building out the supply chain to installing equipment, to operating the wind facilities, North Carolina’s manufacturers and workforce are well-positioned to play an integral role in the entire East Coast market, not just for projects directly off the state’s coast.”

The executive order also directs the North Carolina Department of Commerce to name a clean energy economic development coordinator and establish the North Carolina Taskforce for Offshore Wind Economic Resource Strategies. The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and the North Carolina Department of Military and Veterans Affairs are also to designate offshore wind coordinators and take steps to support offshore wind. Further to support the development of the offshore wind sector, the North Carolina Offshore Wind Interagency Workgroup will conduct quarterly meetings to ensure offshore wind activities are well coordinated among leadership in relevant agencies.

The governor’s initiative follows a memorandum of understanding among the governors of North Carolina, Maryland, and Virginia signed in October 2020 that created the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Regional Transformative Partnership for Offshore Wind Energy Resources. The SMART-POWER MOU provides a framework for the three states to cooperatively promote, develop and expand offshore wind energy and the accompanying industry supply chain and workforce.