Gov. Roy Cooper Touts Offshore Wind Development at Duke Symposium

Gov. Roy Cooper speaks at the Winds of Change event at Duke
Flyer for symposium: Winds of Change: Tracking the Development of US Offshore Wind Energy

“We are seeking to unify our efforts and amplify interdisciplinary climate and sustainability work across our campus – offering every member of the Duke community an opportunity to engage,” said President Vincent Price, who introduced Cooper.

Price also outlined the various projects that Duke has been engaged in, both before and since the fall 2022 launch of that commitment. He pointed specifically to Project Wildlife and Offshore Wind (WOW), which was created to evaluate the potential efforts of wind energy development on marine wildlife.

“This is vitally important work. While wind energy can serve as the foundation of renewable energy systems, there is a significant need for engagement around the benefits and challenges of offshore development,” Price said.

Some critics have expressed concern that harnessing offshore winds is causing the deaths of whales that have washed up on beaches in New Jersey, New York, Virginia and elsewhere. It’s a claim that Andy Read, a Duke marine biology professor in the Nicholas School of the Environment, has said isn’t accurate.

Read recently told North Carolina Policy Watch that ship strikes and fishing gear are responsible for 40 percent of whale deaths and there is no evidence that offshore wind projects are to blame.

Cooper said North Carolina has resolved to stay on the cutting edge of global challenges and will continue to play a leadership role in clean energy development and manufacturing into the future.

“The need for reliable clean energy that offshore wind can produce has never been greater,” said Cooper, who has set a goal for offshore wind to generate 2.8 gigawatts of electricity in the state by 2030 and 8 gigawatts by 2040, which he said would power some 2 million homes.

Cooper said one of the reasons there has been bipartisan support for his clean energy initiatives is that it can lead to well-paying jobs.

“You don’t have to be a supporter of the fight against climate change to like the money going into the pockets of everyday North Carolinians,” he said.

The day-long event was attended by wind energy developers, government officials, non-governmental organization representatives and other stakeholders to explore the challenges and opportunities for offshore wind development on the Atlantic coast in the next decade.

Speakers discussed the practical realities of project financing, leasing and permitting while addressing potential environmental impacts and other issues involved in the planning, development and sustainable deployment of offshore wind energy infrastructure.

Friday’s conference coincides with other ocean-oriented events this weekend, including the Blue Economy Summit organized by Oceans at Duke. That summit will examine the use of ocean resources to grow economies while still maintaining healthy marine ecosystems.

Gov. Roy Cooper, right, talks before his speech with Brian Murray, interim director of the Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability, and Duke President Vincent Price. Photo by Jared Lazarus/University Communications