BOEM identifies 6 new areas for Mid-Atlantic wind energy; two are in NC waters

By on November 29, 2022

November Draft BOEM report identifying potential offshore Wind Energy sites. (BOEM)

With its newly released report, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has dramatically increased the potential for wind energy from Delaware to Cape Hatteras.

The six new areas to be considered are included in a Nov. 14 draft report titled Development of the Central Atlantic Wind Energy Areas. The draft concludes that in those areas, there are 1,747,026 acres that are considered suitable for the development of wind energy. The report is a draft or first pass at identifying areas for development — and there is now a 30-day public comment period that ends on Dec. 14.

“The Central Atlantic is one of several regions where wind energy development in offshore federal waters is being considered to support the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030,” the study notes in its introduction. The Wind Energy Areas (WEA) under consideration would certainly go a long way toward meeting that goal.

The report identifies six potential WEAs between Delaware and North Carolina, offering a preliminary assessment of whether they raise environmental concerns. Are they placed in migratory bird flyways or marine mammal migration routes? Are there Defense Department concerns or conflicts with ocean shipping and other factors? After reviewing the data on areas of concern, the potential WEAS are examined for the suitability of placing wind turbines.

It will be a number of years before there is ocean construction or wind energy captured from any of the proposed areas. After the public comment period closes, a final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will be issued — usually at least six to nine months from the date the draft EIS is accepted. That will be followed by a series of more detailed analyses of the areas that may be available for lease.

BOEM will then conduct a lease auction. The winning company is required to produce a Construction and Operations Plan (COP) as well as an EIS specific to the area they will be developing.

Not included in the new report is the existing Kitty Hawk WEA, which was first proposed as an area for wind development in 2014. A recently posted timeline provided by Avangrid Renewables, the lease holder for the 122,405-acre Kitty Hawk WEA, has offshore construction beginning in 2027 with the first energy not transmitted until 2028.

Of the six proposed WEAs in the new report, two are in the waters off the North Carolina coast — Areas D and F.

Area D borders the Kitty Hawk WEA and extends south to a point about 35 miles east of Kill Devil Hills. On the north end, it’s about 85 miles from Norfolk.

The largest proposed WEA is designated D-1 and is 185,536 acres — 50% larger than the Kitty Hawk WEA. The D-1 site abuts the Kitty Hawk WEA. There is a much smaller secondary area, D-2, along the eastern side of the area that is 24,216 acres.

Area F is identified in the report to the east of area D. It is well offshore, 92 miles from Carova Beach and 123 miles from Norfolk. Although the distance from land will probably create some challenges, transmitting the energy seems realistic; the Kitty Hawk WEA will be available to link to any energy that is produced. Dominion Power is currently also developing a WEA immediately to the east of Norfolk as well.

The challenge to wind energy here is the depths involved. The offshore areas currently being developed along the coast are in waters as deep as 45 meters (148’). In those relatively shallow waters, turbine platforms rest on a monopole — a large, hollow metal tube that is driven into the seabed. To date, 45 meters is the maximum depth of monopole construction, although there is research being done that would take that depth to 65 meters (213’). The depth found in Area F far exceed any use of a monopole and if and when the area is developed, the turbines will likely be on floating platforms.

“Floating platforms in the deeper ocean are nothing new,” Dr. Reide Corbett, Dean of the Coastal Studies Institute (CSI), told the Voice. “The oil and gas industry has been doing it for years.”

However, for the offshore wind industry, floating platforms are still being developed as a viable construction method, and according to Corbett, the depths indicated in the BOEM report appear to be deeper than anything currently in operation.

Although it may take a while for power to be generated from Area F, Corbett is confident it can be done. “With a new need comes innovation, so if we can imagine it, engineers will find a way,” he wrote in an email.

The deep water of Area F could offer possibilities for additional energy production. George Bonner, Director of the Renewable Ocean Energy Program at CSI, was in Spain for the International Energy Conference in October.

CSI is one of the leading programs in the nation in developing ocean energy. With the Gulf Stream passing closer to the Outer Banks at Cape Hatteras than any other place in North America, the Renewable Ocean Energy Program has become a leader in capturing energy from ocean currents.

While at the conference, Bonner saw that European offshore wind was being paired with other renewable energies — solar and wave energy. And he believes that is a concept that should be explored.

“We think there’s an opportunity for marine energy to compliment offshore wind, and we would like to pursue that like they’re doing in Europe,” he said.





  • Chris

    They can put wind energy where the sun don’t shine.

    Tuesday, Nov 29 @ 12:55 pm
  • Dan

    Research how much copper is required for one wind turbine (8000 lbs). Then research how copper mining is done and note that small fossil fuel power plants are built near these mines because they require so much digging and energy. Then research how hard it is to get a permit in the United States for a new copper mine with the EPA and every other green group trying to stop it. The only reason we have any wind and solar is because of the billions of $ that has been thrown down the drain supporting it. Its impractical, expensive and unreliable as a form of energy and, all factors considered, it could never replace the low price, reliability and availability of fossil fuels.

    Tuesday, Nov 29 @ 1:46 pm
  • KIM

    This will be detrimental to marine life & wildlife. It will TACKY up GOD’S beautiful ocean. HUMANS are the most DESTRUCTIVE species on the planet. What a SHAME.

    Tuesday, Nov 29 @ 9:16 pm
  • Joe

    A good spot for them is in front of Joe Biden’s Deleware oceanfront home.

    Wednesday, Nov 30 @ 10:56 am
  • Roy

    Before anyone gets too upset about these structures cluttering the view at the beach, The closest distance from the beach is 42 to 45 miles nautical miles.
    To estimate how far you can see standing on the beach is to use this formula; 1.17 times the square root of your height of eye (in feet). Add this to the results of the estimated height of one of the towers using the same formula.

    It is 2.9 miles to the horizon if you are six feet standing at at sea level. 40 feet elevation increases distance to 7.3 miles, 60 feet increases it to 8.4 miles. 100 feet increases to 11.7 miles.

    Wednesday, Nov 30 @ 4:02 pm
  • Ray

    Roy, No matter what formula is used these towers of wasted funds would be like dust bunnies, we all know they are there, just can’t see ’em. I suggest we just stop all the fuss and go forward with the building plans…..just tag them to the mid Currituck bridge project. Poof ! Problem solved. GO Nuke ! 🙂

    Thursday, Dec 1 @ 7:07 am
  • Freenusa

    These wind farms will become ocean junk yards. They will kill birds. They will have oil leaks, that leak and leak and leak. They will leach their poisonous coating into the ocean. This is only a small view of their plan for the glorious ocean wind farms. Maintenance will be limited, just drive thru the massive wind farms out west and notice how many are not rotating, when others are. This is on land, with easy accessibility. Just think about, in the ocean. It is ludicrous. I wonder if they will have EV ships for maintenance🤣but they are banning natural gas in Montgomery County Md. “They”want to take us back to days most of us can not remember.

    Friday, Dec 2 @ 8:59 pm
  • Freenusa

    These massive structures will take more fossil fuel and mined minerals to construct and eventually erect and maintain than they will ever produce usable energy, so destructive, in the name of saving humanity. It’s another scam on the US tax payer and the world as well.

    Friday, Dec 2 @ 10:48 pm
  • Louisa

    These wind and solar projects in the US only benefit foreign companies, monetarily. If you do research you will find that foreign companies win the bids and solar panels and wind turbines are manufactured in other countries with a huge negative impact on the environment and people (China). They try to sell the idea by saying these projects bring jobs for Americans. Probably not. There is nothing keeping these foreign companies from bringing in their own workers. Don’t even get me started on the destruction of the environment and impact on our beautiful wildlife.
    No, we do not want to be like Europe. They will be very cold this winter due to their dependence on Russian energy and failed wind and solar. I was on a mountain in Portugal and at the top, above the clouds the sun was setting it was magical, however, it was very difficult to get a great photo while trying to block out the dozens of wind turbines destroying the view (most were not turning). Also, I see the agricultural fields in NC and VA being turned into solar farms. Why don’t we grow our own food here? Everything is grown in Mexico and South America now.
    Solar and wind power may make sense in very small applications, but they need to stop ruining millions of acres of our untouched mountains and oceans and our fields that should be growing food. Most of the people living in these coastal areas have never heard of these projects and never will. That is their plan, keep us all in the dark, so that they can cash in and destroy all the beauty that makes us happy. We have more oil and natural gas in this country than we could ever use. Perfecting the existing technology and building on what we already have makes more sense. We could be food and energy independent, but our greedy and corrupt leaders prefer to line their pockets and sabotage our future. Humans are the worst creatures on this planet.

    Saturday, Dec 3 @ 11:08 am
  • Freenusa

    The farm lands that have been turned into solar farms will be waste land in the future. The land will be poisoned from the hazardous chemical leaching off each panel. Never again fit for agriculture.

    Sunday, Dec 4 @ 11:07 am
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    Free, by now we are all well aware if your views of wind and solar energy. Please find something else to comment on.

    Sunday, Dec 4 @ 3:26 pm