Wind Energy in North Carolina (USA)

North Carolina’s wind resource is vast; however, no large-scale wind farms have been built onshore or offshore of the Tarheel state. Nearly 4,500 megawatts (MW) of onshore wind resource exists in North Carolina, and another 297,000 MW resides offshore.

A single megawatt of wind capacity can generate enough electricity for up to 300 homes. Modern onshore wind turbines are generally 2 MW in capacity, and offshore wind turbines are currently available up to 5 MW.

In 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy published a report on how to achieve 20% of the nation’s electrical supply from onshore and offshore wind power. In that report, the DOE estimated that North Carolina would supply more than 10,000 MW of onshore and offshore wind energy combined by 2030. Up to 20,000 manufacturing jobs would be created in North Carolina from this scenario. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates that for every one megawatt of offshore wind capacity built, more than 20 jobs are created.

Recently, two onshore wind farms have been proposed in North Carolina: a 300 megawatt (MW) project by Iberdrola (a Spanish company with a Portland, Oregon-based North American division) in Pasquotank and Perquimans counties, and another 300 MW project by Invenergy (a USA-based company) in Camden and Currituck counties. These projects represent more than $1 billion in North Carolina wind energy investments.

Already several companies in North Carolina work in the wind industry, even though the state has no large-scale wind farms installed. The following is a non-exhaustive list of a few of those companies.

* American Roller Bearing Company (Hickory, NC) manufacturers ball, cylindrical and tapered bearing for wind turbines, as well as oilrigs, coal pulverizers and has even provided bearings for the U.S. space program.

* Bijur Delimion International (Morrisville, NC) manufacturers lubrication devices for wind turbines and services national and international customers.

* CommScope (Hickory, NC) has manufacturing facilities in Catawba, Newton, Claremont and Statesville, North Carolina and other states. These facilities provide electrical grounding wire to protect turbines from lightening strikes as well as telecommunications cables. The company also provides engineering studies on the effects of wind turbines to nearby telecommunications systems.

* Geopier Foundation Company (Mooresville, NC) engineers foundations to mount wind turbines on the ground as well as bridges and buildings. The company’s “Rammed Aggregate Pier” system uses local resources and can aid in achieving Leadership in Environmental Engineering and Design (LEED) certification.

* HAWE Hydraulics (Charlotte, NC) manufacturers hydraulics that can be used as braking mechanisms to slow or stop turbines blades from spinning.

* LORD Corp (Cary, NC) provides passive motion control and structural adhesives to the wind industry, but also to the aerospace and defense industries.

* PPG Industries (Shelby, NC) manufactures fiberglass used for wind turbine blade manufacturing.

* Rochling Engineering Plastics (Dallas, NC) manufactures high performance plastics that can be used by the wind industry as electrical insulation and corrosion protection.

* Wind Energy Supply (Shelby, NC) bills itself as a “one stop shop for all your wind energy needs” and provides erection and transportation logistics, maintenance supplies, protection devices for wind turbine technicians and electrical connection components.

Despite the wind energy industry presence in North Carolina already, if the state is going to achieve the Department of Energy’s scenario to develop more than 10 gigawatts worth of wind capacity and generate up to 20,000 in-state manufacturing jobs by 2030, the state will need to recognize renewable energy as a valuable economic engine. North Carolina must improve its renewable portfolio standard and the state’s federal delegates should propose and support stable tax incentives for the wind industry.

By Simon Mahan and Katie Stokes (cleanenergy)


Source: cleanenergy, June 10, 2011; Image: windpoweringamerica