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North Carolina could be next for US offshore wind

Nine US and European developers plan to bid in the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s seventh lease auction.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will hold an auction in March for developers to bid on over 120,000 acres of water near North Carolina available for offshore wind.

This is the seventh lease auction the federal agency, part of the Department of the Interior, has planned for offshore wind development. The 122,405-acre site 24 nautical miles off the coast of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina will be auctioned to nine US and international developers on 16 March.

The US, which lags behind European countries in offshore wind development, has recently reached a number of milestones. In August, the country’s first offshore wind farm, a 30MW project off the coast of Rhode Island, was completed. And a lease sale was held last month for over 79,000 acres off the coast of the high-density power market in New York.

BOEM’s latest lease auction “underscores the growing market demand for renewable energy and strong industry interest in meeting that demand”, DOI secretary Sally Jewell said.

Among the nine companies planning to bid in the auction is Statoil Wind US. Last month, this division of the Norwegian oil giant won the New York lease auction off the coast of Long Island that is set aside for offshore wind development.

Other companies planning to bid include Enbridge Holdings, Shell WindEnergy and PNE Wind USA.

Even after a lease auction is held, however, offshore wind development is not a certainty. Financial and regulatory hurdles must still be cleared before construction can begin.

After conducting a study in September 2015, BOEM said it found no evidence of significant environmental and socioeconomic impact in the North Carolina wind lease area. A final sale notice including deadlines, auction details and lease provisions will be published on 19 January.