North Carolina Renewable Energy Projects to Bring the Southeast Up to Speed

Traditionally, when thinking of renewable energy programs in the United States, the focus tends to turn towards the west and in more recent times the northeast. While there have been some initiatives in southeastern states, that area of the country is still trailing behind. Recently, however, the North Carolina state government and Duke Energy (which covers North and South Carolina) have been working together to try and get renewable energy projects off the ground. These efforts also work together with a nonprofit organization called NC GreenPower that aims to raise awareness on renewable energy and encourage the state to replace existing power sources with renewable energy.

Last week the North Carolina House of Representatives passed a bill that would grant tax incentives to companies that manufactured renewable energy sources. The idea behind the bill is to take incoming tax money and give it to any project that intends to produce some form of biomass produced electricity or hydroelectric, solar, wind, or geothermal power. Although it is too early to determine the impact this will have on the greater efforts of the state to bring in renewable energy, it is a part of an ongoing project by Duke Energy to start renewable energy programs in North and South Carolina.

Duke Energy, which currently produces most of its power output with nuclear and fossil fuel plants, has prepared several renewable energy projects within the last several years. In the biomass field, Duke has partnered with other organizations to research the viability of biomass conversion electricity plants while running its own project in Durham, North Carolina. The project currently grants 1,600 customers power from biomass conversion at a local landfill. Duke also started a multi-phased solar power project in 2009 with the goal of determining the viability of adding solar power generators to the current power grids in central North Carolina. So far, solar panels have been placed in four commercial areas with a plan to implement residential solar power in the Charlotte, North Carolina area by the end of 2010.

Duke Energy also partnered with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill last year to research the viability for wind turbine produced renewable energy off the cost of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. After completion, it was determined that the placement of wind turbines in the water, in a manner similar to the planned turbine placement near Cape Cod, would be a viable source of renewable energy and a significant means of reducing carbon emissions for the state.

Paired with the current plans to create new forms of renewable energy in the Carolinas, Duke is also planning to work to provide efficient charging stations for electric vehicles across the Carolinas. The move is being done to prepare for the new influx of easily attainable electric vehicles that will be released by the end of the year. Since Nissan’s LEAF is one of them, also having the factory based in the Southeast, Nissan has also started a project to place charging stations in several areas throughout South Carolina.

With Duke Energy working towards multiple renewable energy projects, the Southeast looks to be catching up with some of the other regions of the United States. Hopefully, within the next several years the completion of some of these projects will spur on the development of other similar works. The introduction of easily obtained electric cars also promises to have an effect on the region’s green interests and it seems it will be for the better.

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