HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — The Carolina Long Bay Project is undergoing early-stage surveying and analysis of two leased sites on a future offshore wind turbine project off the coast of Little River.
Duke Energy and Total Energies won a bid in May 2022 to be the lessees of two sites in the Carolina Long Bay area.
Duke Energy said it’s now preparing to put buoys in the water to measure things like wind speed.
“They’ll do a lot of assessments of the bottom habitats for essential fish habitat in the area,” said Paul Gayes, executive director for Coastal Carolina University’s Burroughs and Chapin Center for Marine and Wetland Studies. “They’ll likely cable corridors that are bringing the power in.”
The two leased sites sit about 22 miles off the coast between South Carolina and North Carolina.
According to Duke Energy’s website, the turbines could power nearly 375,000 homes using a total of 1.6 gigawatts of offshore wind.
Gayes said the surveying and analysis they do now will shape the construction and operations of the project.
“Florida gets a lot of hurricanes and Maine gets a lot of nor’easters, we get both,” he said. “And so, the design that goes into these things has to reflect the realities of which they’re going to be put into.”
Gayes said the waters between South and North Carolina are a good place for a wind farm and that it’s been studied for more than a decade.
“We have such a flat, low gradient shelf, you can go way offshore and still be in depths of water you can build easy traditional towers,” he said.
In Virginia, Dominion Energy has two offshore wind turbines already in use. It plans to have more constructed by 2026 to power more than 600,000 homes.
Gayes said regardless, wind energy — both on and offshore, is the future.
“There’s no perfect solution, but all these things can lead to an integrated good solution,” he said.
Duke Energy said the project is still in the planning phase, so it’s still looking into what exact areas would be powered by the turbines.
The project plans to be operational by 2035.