The Future of Offshore Wind Energy in South Carolina

BY: JULIE CALHOUN
10/25/2019

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW)- A new study predicts that wind could power the entire world. Research published Friday said offshore wind power could generate enough electricity for every home and business on Earth.

This comes as a federal agency is looking at the south carolina coast to develop offshore wind energy.

The Bureau of Energy Management or BOEM is in the planning stage to lease wind energy areas along the South Carolina coast and specifically the Grand Strand to develop offshore wind energy.

“The Grand Strand and South Carolina is really well poised to take a leadership role in this,” said Dr. Paul Gayes, the Executive Director of Marine and Wetlands Studies at Coastal Carolina University.

BOEM has identified call areas along our coast that could be available for future leasing.

Dr. Paul Gayes said offshore wind energy could be a game changer in our area as the population grows daily.

“The growth in the coastal states is substantial. You look at the amount of development in the coastal zone that is fed by energy. Where is the energy coming from?” said Gayes.

According to the Energy Information Administration, six percent of South Carolina’s energy comes from renewable sources, but none of that is wind. Gayes said that could soon change. He and clemson researchers met with Iowa State University who pitched building a “tall wind” farm in the Pee Dee. Right now, they’re hoping to be awarded a grant from the Department of Energy for the project.

Gayes said that project would not only expedite off shore wind energy, but has the potential to bring in more jobs and manufacturing, which is already happening in Iowa.

 “The positions are $80,000 a year jobs with technical training in an industry and they can’t generate people fast enough to fill the demand,” said Gayes.

Gayes said within the last decade, the cost of wind is now cheaper than gas, coal, and nuclear energy. The International Energy  Agency reports lower costs of offshore wind could totally eliminate the need for using fossil fuels.

News 13 asked Congressman Tom Rice his thoughts on offshore wind energy in South Carolina. He said this in a statement:

“I am excited about the prospect of renewable offshore wind energy coming to South Carolina. The investments associated with wind energy development could significantly boost and diversify the economy in my district. I have already begun meeting with stakeholders on this issue and will continue to explore future opportunities. Investment in renewable energy will help keep our country safe and energy independent by reducing our dependence on fossil fuels as well as maintaining our competitive edge in the world.” –Congressman Tom Rice

News 13 asked Senator Hugh Leatherman of Florence his thoughts.

“What we really got to look at is how it may affect the tourism in our state. Such a tremendous asset for us which brings in billions of dollars in tax money from all the visitors who enjoy the coast,” said Senator Leatherman.

BOEM plans to establish wind energy areas off the sc coast this year. For more information on offshore wind leasing click here: https//www.boem.gov/The-Path-Forward-for-Offshore-Wind-Leasing/