If you’ve never been to the Outer Banks, the first thing you notice when you get out of the car is the wind. In the summer time it’s a gentle breeze in the evenings that just slides peacefully over the dunes. In the winter time, like it is now, it’s a howling gale that threatens to blow you away anytime you step outdoors.
The wind here has always made people wonder what can be done to harness its power. The first settlers used the wind to power their ships back to England. The Wright brothers used the wind in their first heavier-than-air flight. And, for awhile, folks were thinking about putting up giant windmills to capture the wind’s power to provide electricity.
Last year, Duke Energy and UNC @ Chapel Hill tried to work out an agreement that would build up to three turbines in the Pamlic Sound – about 7 miles offshore from Avon. The turbines would’ve been used in research and of course, generating electricity.
“Make no mistake, every governor in America is thinking about this. North Carolina has to do as much as we can do safely or we will fail,” she said at the time.
A UNC-Chapel Hill feasibility study released in August 2009 found that large areas of Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds and some parts of the ocean are incompatible with wind farms because of limited wind resources, ecological impacts on birds, fish, and critical habitat, close proximity to cultural artifacts such as shipwrecks, or conflict with military operations, commercial fishing, and recreational activities.
After finding out that the cost would’ve been $114 million instead of the $16 million originally figured on and finding out that the barges required to haul the material and equipment to the site wouldn’t fit into the shallow sound, the deal was scrapped.
So the wind still blow, electricity is still outrageously priced and the view from the back porch of the beach house is unspoiled.
Jerry Nelson is a freelance photojournalist living in Asheville, North Carolina. He has traveled the world documenting the tears, joys, laughter and lives of people everywhere. He currently focuses his attention and his camera on people, places and things in the United States. A portion of the proceeds from each photo shoot is donated to organizations that help the homeless in the communities in which he works. You can see more of his photography by clicking here.