Governor Cooper establishes offshore wind goals for North Carolina
Governor Roy Cooper has issued an Executive Order designed to strengthen North Carolina’s commitment to offshore wind power, as the state plans a transition to a clean energy economy.
Offshore wind is a clean and renewable energy resource, with a net technical energy potential of approximately 900,000 gigawatt-hours a year. The order establishes offshore wind development goals of 2.8 gigawatts off the state’s coast by 2030, and 8 gigawatts by 2040.
Cooper’s office says achieving the goals will power roughly 2.3 million homes in the next two decades. The governor also says the move will increase economic benefits across the state, while aiming for a 70% reduction in power sector greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050.
The reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are part of the state’s Clean Energy Plan, enacted in October 2018. Policy and action recommendations to achieve the plan were established by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality in a 2019 report.
Executive Order No. 218 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 (NC TOWERS).
In addition, the move will instruct the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and the North Carolina Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to designate offshore wind coordinators, and take steps to support offshore wind.
Cooper’s order comes after the North Carolina Department of Commerce recently released an offshore wind supply chain and infrastructure report which examined the state’s ability to address the offshore wind industry’s supply chain and manufacturing needs.
Executive Order No. 218 also follows a 2020 bipartisan memorandum of understanding (MOU) among the governors of North Carolina, Maryland, and Virginia. That MOU created the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Regional Transformative Partnership for Offshore Wind Energy Resources (SMART-POWER), and it notes that developing an Atlantic Coast offshore wind project pipeline could support up to 86,000 jobs, $57 billion in investments, and provide up to $25 billion in economic output by 2030.
Offshore wind has seen popularity throughout the United Kingdom, China, and Germany. A large-scale offshore wind project in the United States has yet to be seen — although, just weeks ago, the U.S. Department of the Interior approved an 800-megawatt project off the coast of Massachusetts.
Meanwhile, offshore wind’s investment over the next 15 years along the U.S. east coast is estimated at $140 billion.