Onshore wind development and manufacturing, as well as offshore wind planning, are happening on a broad scale in the United States though efforts in the Southern states are often overlooked. Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia each have great stories to tell in terms of resource potential, supply chain and well-positioned markets, but when all four are considered together a much more compelling story emerges.
The shallow waters of the South Atlantic Bight and high wind speeds make the Southeast’s offshore wind resource the most cost-effective on the East Coast. The Southeast contains 63% of the East Coast shallow offshore wind resource and 45% of the total resource. Onshore wind development is expanding in the region as well, as new technology allows for development in lower wind speed areas.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina and then Virginia represent the four states with the lowest estimated offshore wind construction costs on the East Coast. In addition, an onshore wind manufacturing base exists despite very little onshore wind development in the region. These manufacturing facilities can be expanded and their highly skilled workforce can be utilized to serve the offshore wind industry as well. The region’s five world-class port facilities provide the infrastructure necessary to serve the needs of nearby offshore wind development as well as export components from local manufacturing facilities to neighboring states.
The Southeast’s excellent wind resources and growing population are a natural fit that offers considerable opportunities to both wind developers and the citizens of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Over half of the population along the East Coast resides in the Southeast and, including Florida, it represents five of the six largest electricity markets of the eastern coastal states. Looking into the future, the Southeast is well poised for further population and economic growth that will require new sources of electric generation.
The Southeastern US has the potential to be a long-term leader in East Coast wind energy supply chain and development. The region’s offshore wind resource is second to none, its electricity markets are some of largest and fastest growing on the East Coast, and the region boasts existing world-class supply chain infrastructure and highly-skilled, low-cost labor markets. Each of these strengths and more were showcased at the Southeastern Coastal Wind Conference at the Charlotte Convention Center on March 8-9, 2012.