The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is gauging interest in commercial offshore wind development in three areas off North Carolina totalling about 4,920 square kilometres.
If developers express interest, BOEM may decide to proceed with a competitive or a non-competitive leasing as early as next year.
BOEM’s Call for Information and Nominations, published in the Federal Register on 13 December, is for about 195 blocks and 60 partial blocks in federal waters on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).
One area is 9.7km off the coast of Kitty Hawk, near the Virginia border. The other two areas are 11.3km and 20.9km southeast of Wilmington, near South Carolina. The ocean in all three areas is less than 40 metres deep.
BOEM is also seeking public comments over the next 45 days on site conditions, resources and other uses in the three areas.
"It’s very exciting to see this for North Carolina," Brian O’Hara of the North Carolina Offshore Wind Coalition, told Windpower Offshore. He said that he hoped North Carolina utilities will be interested enough in buying electricity from projects.
The three ‘call’ areas have been chosen for being potentially attractive for development while not encroaching on sensitive habitats and resources. They also allow for minimising conflict with the military, shipping and fishing, said BOEM.
More of the waters off North Carolina are being considered for wind development. Stakeholder input is currently being gathered for two additional areas off the state, said O’Hara.
North Carolina generally has shallow waters and a potential of some 297GW within 80km of the coast, he said.