Posting in Energy
Just one grid-connected wind turbine spins in South Carolina. But this Deep South state is eyeing the deep for a renewable energy future.
South Carolina connected its first wind turbine to the grid last November. The 2.4-kilowatt turbine is a skinny thing, standing alone while harnessing winds that blow onto North Myrtle Beach. But the seaside spinner might beckon much larger turbines to the state, ones weighing tons and standing hundreds of feet high.
That's right, South Carolina has its eye on offshore wind farms.
The first turbines off the East Coast will likely whir further north, with New England's Cape Wind project. But a report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, that details the offshore wind resources of coastal states, has sparked collaboration between North and South Carolina around developing energy projects in their corner of the Atlantic.
The 2010 report listed the total potential offshore wind capacity for both Carolinas at nearly 430,000 megawatts. Importantly, 104,317 of those megawatts represent locations in shallow waters that are 12 nautical miles or more from the shoreline. To the wind industry, shallow means depths less than about 100 feet. Deep wind farms would mean even steeper price tags. In this respect, North and South Carolina have fortunate geology off their coasts. The continental shelf slopes gradually, often remaining shallow for miles out to sea. This means people on land are less likely to have turbines obstruct their scenic views —an issue that embattled Massachusetts' Cape Wind for years.
Whether far out in shallow waters or not, the wind farms would need transmission lines to bring their electricity to shore. In April, the Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC) requested the right-of-way to construct a network of transmission lines for 7,000 megawatts of offshore power generation for mid-Atlantic states. As of now, this proposed transmission backbone ends in Virginia.
So turbines along the South Carolina coast are still a long way off. In the meantime, the state's single beached turbine will continue supplying data to the Palmetto Wind Research Project (along with buoys and incoming anemometer towers). And its coal-burning power plants will continue to generate between 500 and 700 megawatts, The State reports, with coal imported from Virginia and West Virginia.
Related on SmartPlanet:
- The Great Lakes: contender for first U.S. offshore wind farm?
- Atlantic backbone lengthens for offshore wind power
- Offshore wind hits financial straits in U.S.
Aug 3, 2011
I completely support off-shore wind, but the costs are still high. A comparison in "The Energy Construct" shows off-shore wind to be 24 c/kWh. These costs need to drop by a factor of 2 to be competitive.
Why is there mention of coal generating capacity here in such an oblique way? Are you suggesting there is intent to replace coal with offshore wind? SC generates a lot of electricity from nuclear power, as do the neighboring states within the grid. Both GA and SC are moving forward with new reactors. Is that worth a notation as well? It may be worthwhile to follow up with an article about neighboring activities. For example, there might be results from a Duke and UNC study off the coast of NC. And there are currently efforts to pass state legislation affecting offshore wind. I believe GA is resisting, partly because of a number of factors, including politics and economics. And private developers are locked out of moving forward due to state regulations. The Southeast is most interesting because it has some of the lowest electricity rates in the country. If offshore wind can be made economically viable, it could be huge for the rest of the regions.
Excellent post on prospects for offshore wind farms in US. Us has ambitious plans to install offshore wind farms. Already US occupies second position in Wind in the world next only to China. Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India Wind Energy Expert E-mail: email@example.com
They need to get on that, if no one invested in projects with a 20 year pay off we wouldn't have electricty right now. No excuses!
The Ocean Energy Council estimates the cost at under 6 c/KWh. That estimate is based partly on European experience. Where did the author of "The Energy Construct" get his figures?