Jul 24 2015

Welcoming Wind Energy to NC

This past week, construction for North Carolina’s first commercial wind farm received approval from state officials. Spanning across 22,000 acres of rural farm land in Pasquotank and Perquimans County, it will be the largest and only terrestrial wind farm in  the Southeast after its completion (Dearen, 2015). The renewable energy project is the result of a partnership between Amazon and Iberdrola Renewables at Desert Wind. Iberdrola Renewables is the United States’ second largest generator of wind energy and a leader in turbine research and design. Iberdrola, which has held off on beginning the project’s construction, elected to proceed only with an agreement in place for Amazon to buy back a large percentage of the energy produced by the plant to power their large server centers (Murawski, 2015).

The Amazon Wind Farm East US will have a plate capacity of 208 mWh after the first phase of construction and could provide enough power for approximately 60,000 homes in northeastern North Carolina (Dearen, 2015). A second phase of construction is already being planned and will include the installation of an additional fifty turbines to the operation and boost capacity up to 300 mWh. The project’s construction spans across mostly agricultural scrub land that is not productive with low population density. Individuals who do see turbines installed on their property will receive a payout of $6,000 annually with that amount to increase each subsequent year (Murawski, 2015). Some residents across the scrub land have jokingly argued wind energy is possibly their best cash crop.

The area set to become the future site to the Amazon Wind Farm East was once deemed unviable for wind energy just a mere decade ago. Taller, bigger, and more efficient turbines are creating stronger viability for wind energy in the southeastern United States (Dearen, 2015). Stronger winds at higher elevations can be tapped by taller turbines. The average turbines height in the United States today is about 260 feet and with new technology researchers are predicting towers at tall as 460 feet (Dearen, 2015). Power will be produced by the turbines at wind speeds as low as 5m/s rather than 8m/s required by many wind farms in the Midwest. The increase in areas for potential wind energy operations come as coal ash and natural gas are being phased as traditional fuel thus making the need for alternative power sources necessary.


Dearen, Jeff. “Taller Towers, Bigger Turbines enable first big Wind Farm in Southeast.” Christian Science Monitor. July 12, 2015. Web. Accessed 21 July 2015. <http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/USA-Update/2015/0712/Taller-towers-bigger-turbines-enable-first-big-wind-farm-in-Southeast>.

Murawski, John. “Amazon Backs North Carolina’s first Wind Farm.” News and Observer: Raleigh. July 13, 2014. Web. Accessed 21 July 2015. <http://www.newsobserver.com/news/business/article27125410.html>

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