North Carolina has great onshore wind resources – both in the mountains and at the coast. The Department of Energy’s (DOE) potential scenario for reaching 20 percent of the U.S. electricity needs with wind by 2030 includes North Carolina as one of only eight states with over 10 gigawatts (GW) of wind energy capacity installed. This capacity would include both offshore and onshore wind, but the reality of this scenario happening in North Carolina will be based on land-use decisions and policies for wind development over the next 20 years. Based on 2010 estimates from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, North Carolina has an onshore wind resource of 1500 megawatts (MW) for sites with potential capacity factors of 30 percent or greater.
The economic development potential from onshore wind for North Carolina is substantial. Based on DOE estimates, if N.C. were to have 1,000 MW of wind development, it would create 1,628 direct jobs during the construction phase and then 243 new direct long term jobs. The cumulative economic benefit to N.C. for construction and 20 years of operation for this wind energy would be $1.1 billion from jobs, lease payments, increased tax revenue, indirect benefits (for example – revenue for companies that support the wind development) and induced benefits (for example – increased spending in the surrounding community). North Carolina has the potential to increase these benefits if North Carolina manufacturing facilities were to supply the turbine components.
With a project recently proposed by Iberdrola Renewables, North Carolina is on the way to having its first utility scale wind turbines. The 300 MW project, which would be located in Pasquotank and Perquimans Counties, is expected to provide enough electricity to power 55,000 to 70,000 homes. Since the project will be sited on 20,000 acres of private land, the lease payments to local landowners could be up to $1 million per year for the next 20 – 25 years. In addition to these lease payments, the landowners will be able to continue to farm the land around the turbines. The construction of the project is anticipated to begin in late 2011 or early 2012 and would create over 400 jobs for the local community.
- Department of Energy 20% Wind Energy by 2030
- National Renewable Energy Laboratory Estimates of Windy Land Area and Wind Energy Potential by State
- Department of Energy Economic Benefits, Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Emissions Reductions, and Water Conservation Benefits from 1,000 Megawatts (MW) of New Wind Power in North Carolina (2009)