For the foreseeable future, the offshore wind might meet all of the Carolinas’ energy needs. According to a survey by Environment America, South and North Carolina have so much capability to capture wind off the coast that they could completely abandon all other forms of energy if everything were converted to run on electricity.
Both states will start installing their maiden offshore wind turbines this month, according to a government auction for 2 leases close to the coast on May 11. The 2 offshore leases in Carolina Long Bay span around 110,000 acres. 50 miles east of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is one of the sites. As per the Federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the alternative location is roughly 30 miles south of Bald Head Island in North Carolina.
Sixteen firms have signed up to bid on the 2 offshore leases that are being auctioned. All undeveloped areas under the lease will be charged a yearly rate of $3 per acre to the auction winner(s), encouraging the complete development of both zones. As per BOEM, the minimum offer for each of the 2 leases is around $2.5 million.
As per a report from the BOEM, if completely developed, these two offshore locations in the auction could yield 0.0013 terawatt-hours of electricity, enough to power nearly 400,000 households.
As per a statement from the agency, the two lease zones in Carolina Long Bay have similar acreage, distance to coast, and wind resource potential. The leases cover a minor percentage of the overall offshore area with wind farm construction potential.
The agency has already leased wind energy sites off the coast of New York and plans to lease others off the coasts of Oregon and California, the Gulf of Mexico, the Gulf of Maine, and the central Atlantic Ocean. According to the US Department of Interior, the New York wind auction set a record as the nation’s highest-grossing contested offshore energy lease sale in history, pulling in $4.37 billion.
The 461,326 acres leased in the New York Bight auction, which is four times the size of the Carolina Long Bay offering, has the potential to generate 5,601 megawatts of electricity, enough to power over 2 million households if completely developed.
The development of offshore wind in the US is still in its early phases. Currently, the country only has one offshore wind farm. In 2016, the Block Island Farm in Rhode Island opened for business. The five-turbine farm generates 30 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 9,000 houses. The auctions are a cornerstone of President Biden’s plan to use offshore wind projects to boost energy independence, generate good-paying employment, and reduce consumer energy bills.