UNC Wind Feasibility Project

In 2008, the North Carolina General Assembly commissioned a study of the feasibility of wind energy production off the state’s coast. A team compromised of experts from UNC-Chapel Hill, NC State University, East Carolina University and consulting firms undertook the study. The Center was tapped to lead the law and policy aspect of the research.

The team prepared a report, entitled Coastal Wind: Energy for North Carolina’s Future, that identifies and analyzes the wind power resource, potential and ecological impacts, geological foundation constraints, power transmission issues, and legal and regulatory barriers associated with wind energy production off North Carolina’s coast. The report identifies key areas along North Carolina’s coast most feasible for wind energy projects that do not significantly conflict with military airspace or natural and cultural resources.

The report was submitted to the General Assembly in July 2009. Based on the study’s results, the legislature appropriated funds to continue the research. In addition, the legislature authorized up to three turbines in Pamlico Sound to serve as a demonstration project. UNC-Chapel Hill has partnered with Duke Energy for the demonstration project, the goals of which are to determine the viability of offshore wind as a scalable renewable energy resource, to optimize measuring and predicting the wind as an energy source, quantify ecological impacts and demonstrate turbine performance and survivability in severe tropical storm conditions.