The Southeastern U.S. is widely considered to have no significant wind resources for the production of competitive wind power. However, this study shows that data available from instrumented Navy platforms (at 50 meters above the ocean surface) off the Georgia coast as well as data from the National Data Buoy Center indicate that there is a better wind resource in the South Atlantic Bight region than previously thought. In addition, this region has a 140 km wide continental shelf providing shallow water over a vast area offshore [1]. This shelf allows conventional wind turbine platform technologies to be used while placing wind turbines over the horizon and out of land sight, overcoming viewscape issues from the shore if necessary.

The current study investigates preliminary design information for a wind farm located in the South Atlantic Bight region based on work done in a partnership between an academic institution and an electric utility. Electrical power output, project costs, turbine selection, landfall options, power integration, environmental impacts, and siting issues are being reviewed. The results of this study show that wind energy resources and offshore conditions could make this region a potential area for development of offshore wind power.


The current study grew out of collaboration developed and supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Partnerships for Innovation (PFI) Program. As part of this three-year program entitled InfinitEnergy: A Coastal Georgia Partnership for Innovation, Georgia Tech has searched for alternative energy options to stimulate economic opportunities for the Coastal Georgia region. A critical component of the PFI grant was performing strategic technology assessments on alternative energy options to determine the potential for implementation. Upon preliminary analysis of wind data obtained for the region offshore of Georgia, it was determined that the wind resource merited further research on the conceptual design of locating an offshore wind farm in the area. This paper covers steps taken to do a detailed analysis ofpotential offshore wind power sites in the South Atlantic Bight.

South Atlantic Bight Overview

A bight is defined as a long, gradual bend or recess in the coastline that forms a large, open bay. This loosely describes the coastal ocean between South Carolina and Florida. The region has many features that distinguish it from neighboring regions; most importantly it has up to a 140 km wide continental shelf [1].

Twenty meters is currently the depth limit of conventional wind turbine platform construction techniques. Off the Georgia coast, there are 8,000 square km of open water less than 20 meters deep within which these wind turbines could be placed (160 km coastline X 50 km out from shore); while the area that encompasses 30 m or shallower water spans 12,800 square km, extending 80 km from shore along the Georgia coast. Beyond approximately 30 km these tall structures are no longer visible from shore. This unique topographical formation offers significant opportunity for development of offshore wind energy facilities in terms of conventional platform placement with minimal visual impact from shore.

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