WILMINGTON—North Carolina is poised to be a major player in the wind-power industry, and the Biden administration says it has a $3 billion plan to invest in offshore wind-energy infrastructure.
John Hardin, executive director of the North Carolina Department of Commerce’s Office of Science, Technology & Innovation, said interest in North Carolina’s wind potential began in 2018, when Gov. Roy Cooper announced Executive Order 80, a commitment to address climate change and transition the state to a clean-energy economy.
“That executive order really shined a light on climate change,” Hardin said, “and helped state agencies and the private sector reorient itself towards a clean-energy economy.”
A state report this year found North Carolina is “well positioned” to attract a significant chunk of the offshore wind-energy industry, which is worth a projected $100 billion. The state also has competitive advantages specific to the supply chain for wind power, including its location, a “pro-business” climate and strong workforce.
Hardin said three wind-farm areas off the North Carolina coast already have been identified, near Kitty Hawk and Wilmington, and the state continues to work on pinpointing new areas.
“And so, they go through a very lengthy, detailed process before they ever decide where these wind-energy areas are located,” he said, “and there’s very much public input involved in that process. Again, they would be in federal waters, and quite a distance from the shore.”
According to Hardin, North Carolina has the second-highest net energy potential for offshore wind on the East Coast, after Massachusetts.
“The lead time to develop the parts and components that go into these wind farms is often many years,” he said, “and so even though the first wind farm may not be off the coast of North Carolina until 2026, the time to begin preparing is now.”
Last year, North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia agreed to collaborate on advancing offshore wind projects and jobs in a memorandum signed by all three governors.