Energy changes focus of coastal wind demonstration
Duke Energy Carolinas will no longer pursue
a plan to place demonstration wind turbines in the Pamlico Sound.
Instead, the company and the University of North Carolina at
Chapel Hill will refocus their collaboration to study and help
enable large-scale offshore wind development on the ocean side
of the North Carolina coast.
Since the project was announced in September 2009, Duke Energy
concluded that the fixed costs associated with permitting, design
and construction of the small-scale coastal wind demonstration
project were no longer economically viable.
“As the team tackled this first-of-its-kind project, we realized
that encouraging large-scale development of offshore wind resources
is a better approach than enabling small demonstration projects
that lack economies of scale,” said Paul Newton, senior vice
president of strategy for Duke Energy’s franchised businesses.
“The cost of the project simply exceeds the benefits our customers
would receive if we were to continue.”
The relatively high fixed cost of developing, permitting and
installing the first turbine makes a small demonstration project
much less cost-effective. For example, the Duke Energy team determined
the cost of the first turbine to be $88 million, while the second
turbine would cost $14 million.
Additional challenges included the need to use modified shallow
water construction techniques and a greater than expected potential
of disturbing underwater vegetation.
Duke Energy will fund the completion of UNC-Chapel Hill’s yearlong
study of bird populations begun through the coastal wind demonstration
In addition, Duke Energy will provide $405,000 for the university’s
coastal wind ocean-side study, which began with a review of available
historical data as part of a feasibility study requested by the
North Carolina State Legislature. These research efforts will
bring North Carolina a step closer to making large-scale wind
power generation a reality off its coast.
In September 2009, the university and Duke Energy Carolinas signed
a contract to place up to three demonstration wind turbines in
the Pamlico Sound. The purpose of the pilot project was to study
the potential for coastal wind generation off the coast of North
Under that contract, the company would pay for the turbines and
their installation, while UNC-Chapel Hill would conduct research
on wind resources, ecological impacts and synergies, and initiate
engineering studies of structural integrity during hurricanes.
The turbines would have been among the first placed in waters
off the United States coast.