Coastal North Carolina is at the center of an energy goldmine. Listening to a panel of experts at a Outer Bank Chamber of Commerce luncheon today—Thursday—that message came amidst all the talk of renewable and alternative energies.
Jim Bennet, Chief of the Office of Renewable Energy Programs, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), was on hand. BOEM has identified three offshore wind energy sites along the North Carolina shore and according to what he told the guests at Jennette’s Pier where the event was held, the first leases will be sold by the end of this year for the Kitty Hawk Block.
The sale of a lease does not mean energy production is imminent—it’s at least a three to four year process—but it is a very significant first step.
Ivan Ulaub, Executive Director of the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA) pointed out that North Carolina is one of the leading producers of solar power—fourth in the nation now, and more solar power is coming on to the grid at all times.
There is already a 20-megawatt site in Shawboro next to the airport on mainland Currituck County and plans are being drawn up for development of the closed Goose Creek Golf course as a solar energy site.
There are other long-term possibilities as well. Some very preliminary studies of the Gulf Stream are underway at this time looking at it as a potential source of energy.
Passing closest to the continual US at Cape Hatteras, the flow of the Gulf Stream at that point is equivalent to almost 90 times the flow of every river on earth.