Wednesday, September 7, 2011
NORTH CAROLINA: THE NEXT RENEWABLE ENERGY POWERHOUSE?
While this may seem meager when compared with other states, it is noteworthy because North Carolina is so far the only state in the American southeast to have implemented such measures. They have also mandated a generous renewable energy installation tax credit, giving homeowners and businesses up to 35%. This credit can be combined with the current 30% federal tax credit for renewable energy installation. These incentives have helped to foster a steady increase in solar installers, wind turbine installers and especially geothermal and energy efficiency companies.
All of this is encouraging, but what could make the big difference for North Carolina’s renewable energy future is its ace in the hole: the largest offshore wind resource of any state on the Atlantic coast. This fact was first described in a study published by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. It found that the coast of North Carolina offered not only good wind conditions, but also sufficient depth to support large wind turbines. It was further supplemented by a study conducted by the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill which conservatively estimated the coast’s practical potential at 55,000 megawatts. That is enough energy to power the entire state – and then some.
The fact that North Carolina is consistently ranked as one of the best places for business in the United States and the fact that is a major center of research and corporate development make the state almost ideal for the increased commercialization of renewable energy. The state government has even begun to market itself to businesses as a great place to research, produce and install renewable technologies. Slowly, surely and inevitably renewable energy continues its march towards the mainstream. Hopefully North Carolina’s southern neighbors as well as states across the country will follow its example.
By Richard Harrod
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