In an executive order issued on Wednesday, June 9, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has committed the state to developing 2.8 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind projects by 2030 and eight GW by 2040.
Achieving those wind energy targets will provide enough electricity to 2.3 million homes by 2040, according to a statement from the Democratic governor’s office.
To generate offshore wind projects, the executive order directs the North Carolina Department of Commerce to appoint an “offshore wind coordinator” and establish a task force that will advise on programs and policies, among other roles.
“The state’s goals are ambitious and Gov. Cooper’s vision for this and the ambitious nature of these efforts is really impressive and exciting,” said Erin Carey, director of coastal programs for the Sierra Club in North Carolina. “It shows just how serious the state is.”
Other East Coast states, such as New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey, are also pursuing wind power plans of their own. But North Carolina’s targets are among the biggest to date. In comparison, Virginia is only targetting 5.2 GW of offshore wind power by 2034 and New Jersey looking at 7.5 GW by 2035, according to Michelle Allen, project manager for the Environmental Defense Fund’s North Carolina Political Affairs.
The new commitments are part of a push to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions to 70 percent by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. These emission targets were announced two years back, along with plans to accelerate the retirement of coal-fired plants and expand the use of renewables. (Related: Democrats’ climate agenda will mimic their COVID tyranny.)
Cooper’s executive order comes as President Joe Biden looks to expand the development of offshore wind power as part of his climate agenda.
Last March, the White House announced a national goal of installing 30 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2030 and 110 gigawatts by 2050. To help achieve these targets, the federal government opened up $3 billion in loan guarantees for offshore wind projects and $500 million for improvements at ports that will service these projects.
The Biden administration claims that hitting its 2030 target will create thousands of jobs, but it also comes at the cost of other industries. In New Jersey, residents fear that the construction of a 1.1 GW offshore wind farm called Ocean Wind will hurt tourism and fishing.
Suzanne Hornick, an Ocean City resident and core committee member of Save Our Shorelines NJ, which is dedicated to opposing wind projects in the state, says that the wind farm’s nearly 100 turbines will be an eyesore, potentially driving away tourists who come for the state’s clear coasts.
Though the turbines will be constructed 20 miles off the coast, Hornick notes that Atlantic City’s tallest building is clearly visible from Ocean City, which is 16 miles away. And the turbines planned for Ocean Wind will be 850 feet tall, much higher than the 735-foot building. (Related: Wind turbines are about to be even BIGGER.)
Tony Butch, a recreational fisherman who follows the activities of Hornick’s organization, is concerned about the wind farm’s effect on fisheries. He says that the cables that will be used to convey power ashore will create an electromagnetic field that can interfere with fish migration.
Fishing enthusiast says that the impact of installing wind turbines in the state’s coast is not studied enough. “There just hasn’t been enough research done in our waters to tell us that it would be safe environmentally,” Butch told NJ Spotlight News. “To me it feels like the state is putting the carriage before the horse.”
Wind power is far from emission-free once the energy needed to build and maintain wind turbines is taken into account. Producing the massive turbines planned for Ocean Wind, for instance, will use millions of tons of energy-intensive steel. It will also require fossil-fuel-burning ships to transport components at specially built ports and deliver the turbines to where they will be installed.
Companies claim that the environmental benefits of wind farms far outweigh their upstream emissions. But research suggests that wind power may do more harm than good.
In 2018, a pair of Harvard University researchers found that significantly increasing wind power generation to meet America’s power demand could increase temperatures over where wind farms are located, as well as over the continental U.S. They noted that their finding tallied up with recent satellite observations of local warming around wind power plants in California, Illinois, Iowa and Texas.
Visit NewEnergyReport.com for more about the disadvantages of expanding wind power use.
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