There are significant land-based wind resources in the Southeast, despite having few utility-scale wind energy installations. Technological advancements such as longer blade lengths and taller towers are opening up areas in the Southeast for wind development that were previously thought to be unviable by allowing developers to access faster wind speeds at higher altitude.
In 2014, SEWC partnered with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to create custom maps that show viable areas for wind projects based on past, present and expected future turbine technologies. Wind turbine tower heights are increasing, with current hub heights up to 110 meters and projected to increase to 140 meters in the coming years.
First Projects in the Region
CREDIT: CHUCK LIDDY, THE CHARLOTTE OBSERVER
The Southeast has a 29 MW wind project at Buffalo Mountain in Tennessee, though the first and only large-scale project in the region is the Amazon Wind Farm US East (AWFUSE) 208 MW wind farm in northeast North Carolina. The project was developed by Avangrid Renewables, and reached full commercial operation in February 2017. The turbines are located on private land in Perquimans and Pasquotank counties, which receive a combined $640,000 annually in property taxes and will continue to do so over the lifetime of the project that will help to fund schools, infrastructure, and public services. The 18-month construction utilized more than 30 North Carolina-based companies and over 500 employees, resulting in more than $18 million in local investment. While the project is located on 22,000 acres, the turbines themselves and all associated facilities use less than 1% of that, leaving the majority to be utilized for other needs including agriculture, all while providing thousands of dollars per year in lease payments to landowners who may otherwise rely on income based on fluctuating commodity prices.