South Carolina’s North Myrtle Beach is soon to become a significant home for wind farms. South Carolina’s growing wind power industry will take a significant step forward this September when the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) identifies the offshore tracts available for lease to wind power farms. The potential for South Carolina to grasp the renewable wind opportunities is significant. It is also apt that the announcement will be made at North Myrtle Beach because it recognizes the work the city and the North Shore Wind Team have done to position the city as the logical place for transmission lines from the offshore farms to move into the land-bound power grid. Here are some pictures of North Myrtle Beach:
The city’s power infrastructure already can handle the intake of an additional 300 megawatts of power and direct it to homes and businesses throughout the city and the region. In addition, the city will incorporate ducts in future ocean outfall pipes where the transmission lines can emerge from the sea.
North Myrtle Beach likely will be the closest land area between Georgetown, S.C. and southeastern North Carolina with existing infrastructure for the transmission lines. The ocean offshore from the area has some of the most reliable winds on the East Coast.
Offshore areas in South Carolina’s Northeast have better winds, according to studies, but the ocean floor there drops off rapidly within 5 miles or so off shore, which already has led to battles from those who don’t want wind towers to be a prominent part of their sea views. The beach of North Myrtle is well developed for pleasure and leisure with hotels, apartments and is a popular and long-established resort. The slope is much more gradual in waters off the Carolinas, meaning the towers can be positioned 10 or more miles from beaches. They may be visible from that distance on clear air days, but only as pinpoints on the distant horizon, which should be acceptable to most people. No turbine sounds will be heard on the beach at that distance.
The BOEM announcement comes on the heels of the adoption of a resolution by the South Carolina Senate recognizing the value of wind-generated energy. This is a very important step toward the development of wind energy in state waters because it tells investors that the state is likely to craft laws and regulations sensitive to their needs, and encourage renewable investment. The resolution recognizes wind power as part of a multi-source energy strategy and North Myrtle Beach as a “Wind Empowered Economic Zone.”
At the same time, though, the Senate would not vote to designate wind power an official part of the state’s energy mix. But it did formally incorporate solar power into the mix, a move that could help break down resistance to the addition of wind power into the grid and establish a process that could be adapted to energy generated from offshore winds.
According to information from Massachusetts, where the East Coast’s first offshore wind farm could be located, a single megawatt of offshore wind energy can power 400 homes, at least 100 more homes than can be powered by a megawatt from less-powerful land-based winds.
Power generated by offshore winds, which is becoming increasingly common in Europe, is an important part of the clean energy mix for the United States – solar power and biofuels are others – that will help to reduce the need for fossil fuels to generate electricity and in the long run help to combat global warming.