Simulation shows impact of wind turbines off coast

Large wind turbines would be clearly visible two miles off the South Carolina coast but would all but disappear into the haze eight miles out to sea, a new photo simulation shows.

Clemson's South Carolina Institute for Energy Studies created the simulation as part of Santee Cooper's research into the viability of building a wind farm off the Grand Strand.

The visual impact of the wind turbines has been a major hurdle for some projects in the United States and Europe.

This summer, Santee Cooper and Coastal Carolina University placed two strings of buoys off the Grand Strand to measure winds. One was at the north end, near North Myrtle Beach, the other was at the south end, closer to Debordieu Beach.

Based on data captured by these buoys, Santee Cooper will build a tower to capture wind measurements at heights of more than 220 feet, slightly less than the height of a typical offshore wind turbine.

Santee Cooper recently received proposals from five companies and is expected to award the design contract within a week. The wind measurement tower will cost about $1 million. Construction of the tower should start early next year.

Another wind project involves a consortium led by Clemson's Restoration Institute. The group is vying with several states for a $45 million grant to build a national offshore turbine testing lab at the old Navy base.