Study finds plenty of usable energy in SC coastal winds

Credit: Coastal conservation League
Credit: Coastal conservation League

NORTH CHARLESTON,SC (WCSC) - The wind turbine industry promises to save jobs and energy, throughout the Lowcountry.

Elizabeth Kress,Santee Cooper's renewable energy director, says its an opportunity of a lifetime for costal South Carolina to become a key player in using offshore wind energy as a possible resource.

Kress, along with other representatives, spoke about using offshore wind energy during a public meeting in North Charleston Tuesday night.

"This is a chance for us to get in at an early point and get in on offshore wind and let this be a center of the offshore wind industry," Kress said.

Kress said that a recent study showed that there is enough wind blowing off the South Carolina coast to supply significant electric power at least part time. The study found that the electricity created by wind could generate enough to power 1 million homes or more.

Kress explained that a wind turbine farm can generate 1 to 5 gigawatts of electricity. She said that a wind turbine farm couldn't generate electricity full time, but that there is still a lot of energy out there to be used.

The main point of the forum was to give area citizens a chance to come out and share opinions as well as gain a better understanding of what this really means for the Lowcountry and beyond.

"This forum brings people into the process and help. It lets them know that they can help define what we do and for them to learn and give us their input so they can define it," Senator Phil Leventis said.

The impact of this could bring not just some jobs but at least 10 to 20,000 to the area.

Last year, the Clemson University Restoration Institute was awarded $45 million to test wind turbine technology in North Charleston.

Paul Gayes with the Center for Marine and Wetlands Study at Coastal Carolina University says the next step is to build a demonstration wind turbine.

Clemson University breaks ground Oct. 28 on a $100 million wind-turbine lab at the old Charleston Navy base. Clemson's facility is slated to open sometime in 2011.

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