BOEM map showing Kitty Hawk WEA.

There may be wind energy in the Outer Banks’ future. 

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has been working toward commercial development of wind the energy potential off Kitty Hawk. The announcement last week that nine companies had qualified to bid for leases in the Kitty Hawk Wind Energy Area (WEA) is a huge step forward.

The WEA, located 24 miles offshore, is considered the crown jewel of East Coast wind energy. Encompassing 122,000 acres, if fully developed, the theoretical potential of the area is huge—enough energy to power of city of 1,000,000.

The possibilities of the Kitty Hawk WEA have attracted some U.S. and  international heavy hitters to the bidding process. Other than Shell WindEnergy, a subsidiary of Dutch Shell, The companies are not household names, but a quick check of their websites shows theses are the corporations that manage some of the largest wind energy resources in the world.

Although the bidding process is an important step toward production, energy production is not imminent. At a minimum it will be eight years before commercial energy flows from the Kitty Hawk WEA, and 10-12 years is more likely.

There have been some unease voiced wind turbines disrupting the horizon. It is highly unlikely the turbines will be visible from the shore. Concerned that the turbines would be visible from the beach is the reason the Kitty Hawk WEA begins 24 miles from the shore.