Nation Mobilizes Offshore Wind Energy at Carolina Long Bay

Offshore Wind Lease Sale Off of North Carolina Coast Marks Another Step Toward Clean Energy Goals

On May 11th, as part of the Biden administration’s ongoing commitment to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) offered 110,091 acres for auction in the Carolina Long Bay area, off the shore of North Carolina and South Carolina. This sale is the Biden administration’s second of seven anticipated offshore wind auctions, and 16 developers qualified to participate, including Avangrid Inc., Shell, Duke Energy, Ørsted, and TotalEnergies.

After about seven hours of bidding, the provisional winners were announced to be TotalEnergies Renewables USA, LLC at $160M and Duke Energy Renewables Wind, LLC at $155M. This was the first auction to include an option allowing companies to claim a 20% credit in exchange for making qualifying investments in the domestic supply chain and/or workforce training for the offshore wind industry, and BOEM is reporting that the auction will result in $42M of contributions to these essential elements of responsible development.

“The Biden-Harris administration is moving forward at the pace and scale required to help achieve the President’s goals to make offshore wind energy a reality for the United States,” said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. “Together with an all-of-government approach, we can combat the effects of climate change while creating good-paying union jobs that can benefit underserved communities. Today’s lease sale is further proof that there is strong industry interest and that America’s clean energy transition is here.”

The federal government has been holding offshore wind lease auctions since 2013 and there has been consistent and substantial growth in interest from developers. Despite the fact that there are currently only seven offshore wind turbines in the United States, the industry has been active in Europe for over three decades, and companies are eager to get involved as the U.S. pivots to clean, renewable energy and the jobs that come with it.

“The Carolina Long Bay lease auction positions North Carolina to play a significant role in meeting the United States’ ambitious offshore wind energy goals and marks an important milestone for the endeavor as a whole,” said Amber Hewett, offshore wind energy program director at the National Wildlife Federation. “Bringing responsibly developed offshore wind energy to the southeast region will be critical to advancing this clean energy resource and helping us achieve our emissions reduction targets.”

Coastal opportunity

Importantly, the state of North Carolina has made commitments to advancing an offshore wind industry and to purchasing this clean power source, with targets to develop 2.8 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030 and 8 gigawatts – enough to power over 2.3 million homes – by 2040. 

The manufacturing supply chain needed to support the speedy and robust development of offshore wind energy in the United States is in its infancy, and North Carolina and other coastal states have an opportunity to supply not just their own manufacturing needs, but to play an integral role in building a robust industry that can support many good paying jobs, well into the future.

Now that Duke Energy and TotalEnergies have these leases, what comes next? While this lease sale represents an important step in the process of developing this offshore wind site, there is still a long way to go before there are turbines in the water. 

The developers will work with state and federal regulators to determine where to place turbines, lay underwater cables, and bring energy onshore to the communities that need it. There will be many opportunities for the public and expert stakeholders to engage in every step of the process.

Critically endangered North Atlantic right whales migrate off the coast of North Carolina.
Critically endangered North Atlantic right whales migrate off the coast of North Carolina. It is important to consider the effects on this species during the offshore leasing process. Credit: Center for Coastal Studies, Right Whale Research | CCS images taken under NOAA Fisheries permit #18786-04.

The National Wildlife Federation looks forward to working with communities, leaseholders, and decision makers, to advocate for robust protections for wildlife through every step of the development process. We will also be working closely with communities to ensure that those most in need of clean, affordable energy, and good jobs are at the center of this industry’s development. 

“North Carolina Wildlife Federation will work with National Wildlife Federation to advocate that future wind energy facilities, development, and operations incorporate the best available fish and wildlife science and methodologies. As this new industry develops, NCWF will make every effort to ensure that the industry is demonstrably wildlife friendly now and into the future,” states Tim Gestwicki, CEO of North Carolina Wildlife Federation. 

The responsible development of offshore wind power, at the scale the Biden administration and the state of North Carolina have committed to, can play a pivotal role in creating a future that we can be proud of.

Join us! Call on your Governor to commit to responsible offshore wind development!