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Wind turbines could one day be built off North Carolina coast, powering thousands of homes

Gov. Roy Cooper met with energy company leaders to observe wind turbines off the Virginia coast. It could be a new way of creating clean energy in our state soon.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Governor Roy Cooper made another pitch for clean energy in our state Thursday. This time, with wind turbines.

You've likely seen the big windmills if you've driven through vast farmland in parts of the country. Wind turbines turn wind into energy.

Imagine them in the ocean off the North Carolina coast. It could become a reality as part of a push to cut our state's emissions in half by 2030.

Cooper toured a wind farm off the coast of Virginia Thursday morning. Then he shared his ideas with state leaders on the North Carolina coast.

"The potential for reliable, affordable offshore wind energy in North Carolina that grows our economy and benefits our environment has never been stronger,” Governor Cooper said. “The economy is rapidly embracing clean energy and seeing the wind turbines up close underscores how investing in this exciting industry will bring tremendous opportunities to combat climate change, power homes and businesses, and put money in the pockets of North Carolina families."

Ocean wind turbine project could power two-thirds of NC

It's hard to get a sense of the scale of those turbines when you see pictures of them in the water.

Each blade alone weighs more than 50 tons. That's the weight of a fully grown Humpback Whale.

The NC Department of Commerce said 20 gigawatts worth of projects is already in the works. For reference, one gigawatt of wind energy powers about 380,000 homes a year. That means these projects could power two-thirds of the state.

Credit: NC Dept. of Commerce

Where would they go? 

Earlier this summer, Duke Energy and another utility company called Total Energies each bought hundreds of acres of ocean South of Bald Head Island.

Those wind farms are still early in the planning process; it will be years before construction begins.

Similar projects miles off the Kitty Hawk coast are further along. The company working on that project, Avangrid Renewables, estimates construction will not begin until 2026.

Credit: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

Keep in mind, all of these projects are miles offshore and you would not be able to see them from the beach.

A federal stop on future projects could limit how many more wind farms come to our coast in the next few years.

A ban signed by former President Donald Trump is in effect for the next 10 years, but that may change.

There is a bill in the Senate that includes a provision to lift the ban. 

Gov. Cooper hopes to see North Carolina producing 2.8 gigawatts of wind energy off our coast by 2030.

Credit: NC Dept. of Commerce
Credit: NC Dept. of Commerce

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