Duke Energy Changes Focus Of Coastal Wind Demonstration Project With UNC

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Duke Energy Carolinas will no longer pursue a plan to place up to three demonstration wind turbines in the Pamlico Sound. Instead, the company and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill) will refocus their collaboration to study and help enable large-scale offshore wind development on the ocean side of the North Carolina coast.

Since the project was announced in September 2009, in-depth analysis and engineering have been conducted. Duke Energy concluded that the fixed costs associated with permitting, design and construction of the small-scale coastal wind demonstration project were no longer economically viable.

‘As the team tackled this first-of-its-kind project, we realized that encouraging large-scale development of offshore wind resources is a better approach than enabling small demonstration projects that lack economies of scale,’ says Paul Newton, senior vice president of strategy for Duke Energy's franchise businesses. ‘The cost of the project simply exceeds the benefits our customers would receive if we were to continue.’

The relatively high fixed cost of developing, permitting and installing the first turbine makes a small demonstration project much less cost-effective than a large-scale project. For example, the Duke Energy team determined the cost of the first turbine to be $88 million, while the second turbine would cost $14 million.

Additional challenges included the need to use modified shallow-water construction techniques and a greater than expected potential of disturbing underwater vegetation.

Duke Energy will fund the completion of UNC-Chapel Hill's yearlong study of bird populations, which was begun through the coastal wind demonstration project.

In addition, Duke Energy will provide $405,000 for the university's coastal wind ocean-side study, which began with a review of available historical data as part of a feasibility study requested by the North Carolina State Legislature.

SOURCE: Duke Energy

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