Offshore Wind Can Drive BlueTech Innovation in Southeast NC.
On May 11 the U.S. Interior Department Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will conduct an auction for the Wilmington East offshore wind tract. This will kick off a process that will progress in phases over 25-30 years. When completed, the Wilmington East area could generate more than 1.5 gigawatts of electricity, which Interior said is enough for more than 500,000 homes. In addition, at the peak of construction the project may employ as many as 1000 specialized construction workers, engineers, technicians and administrators. When construction is complete there will be several hundred permanent workers engaged in operations and maintenance for the life of the project.
By itself, the construction and operation of the wind field promises to provide a significant economic boost to Southeast NC. But in addition to the direct effects, with some foresight, the offshore wind project can catalyze the growth of the broader Blue Tech economic segment engaged in developing, manufacturing and operating the technological tools of the Blue Economy: Marine Robotics, High Tech Sensors, Data Processing and Analytics, Underwater Communication. Technologies to support offshore wind design, construction and operations but also applicable to sustainable shipping, aquaculture, coastal resilience, commercial and recreational fisheries, defense and other Blue Economy Industries.
Recently, Wilmington Biz Magazine published a letter by CFOL Board Chair Glenn Anderson describing the opportunities and challenges facing the Cape Fear Region. You can read more about the topic here.