NC Sustainable Energy Association


2011 NC Clean Energy Data Book Released

June 21, 2011 10:50 AM | Posted By: Julie Robinson, Director of Government Affairs & Paul Quinlan, Deputy Director & Strategic Projects & Rich Crowley, Director of Market Research & Spatial Analysis

“First-Ever” Guide to NC’s Clean Energy Economy Released: Major Projects, Jobs, Resources & Regional 2011Strengths/Weaknesses

Highly-Valuable Information Compiled Together in “2011 NC Clean Energy Data Book”

RALEIGH – What is North Carolina’s clean energy economy – and what does it encompass?  What are our state’s clean energy resources, installed projects, business and job creation opportunities, and what regions of our state are leading the way?  The NC Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA), a membership organization representing individuals, businesses, government and non-profits that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency, has compiled all of this valuable information and much more into the first-ever 2011 NC Clean Energy Data Book.  Previously, the information found in this new publication was scattered across numerous state agencies, found in over a thousand regulatory filings at the NC Utilities Commission, on various websites, or not cataloged online at all. 

Click here to download the 2011 NC Clean Energy Data Book. 

Follow the links at left to access hi-res maps found in the publication, listen to an archived webinar with the publication authors and media, view a sampling of photos of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects from across our state, and learn more about upcoming events across the state when NCSEA will discuss the regional findings.

“Renewable energy and energy efficiency is an emerging and potentially significant economic driver for North Carolina,” said Paul Quinlan, Managing Director of the NC Sustainable Energy Association and co-author of the 2011 NC Clean Energy Data Book.  “Clean energy companies, jobs, investments and projects can be found in almost every county in North Carolina from the mountains to the coast – and the potential for further growth is immense.” 

Click here to download the 2011 NC Clean Energy Data Book.
Click here to download hi-res maps/images found in the publication or contact Rich Crowley at
Click here to view photos of renewable energy & energy efficiency projects across NC.
Click here to access the webinar presentation with the media & publication's authors and click here to access the archived audio. 
(Coming Soon)

Upcoming Regional Seminars on the NC Clean Energy Data Book's findings (click here for more details):

  • Tuesday, June 28, 2011: Caldwell Chamber of Commerce in Lenoir, 2-4pm
  • Wednesday, Jun 29, 2011: Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College in Candler, 2-4pm
  • Monday, July 18, 2011:  Central Carolina Community College in Siler City, 1-3pm
  • Tuesday, July 26, 2011: Perquimans Recreation Center in Hertford, 10:30am-12:30pm

However, the presence of clean energy jobs and projects can go unnoticed by North Carolinians in certain regions of our state – and future opportunities overlooked.  To overcome this dynamic, the NC Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA) designed this publication to:

1) Catalogue and geographically display existing clean energy infrastructure at the state, regional, and county levels.

2) Assess the additional clean energy opportunities in the seven economic development regions found in North Carolina by analyzing relative strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

3)  Determine if clean energy impacts and opportunities differ between urban and rural counties in North Carolina.

“This publication and its wealth of information has been needed for years,” added Quinlan.  “Now, North Carolina’s business leaders, elected officials and decision makers, economic developers, investors, educators and our citizens can easily see the economic and job creation progress we’ve made, the home-grown energy resources we have, and the opportunities and strengths of each region in terms of renewable energy, energy efficiency, green building and smart grid.”

What is North Carolina’s “Clean Energy Economy” – And What Does It Encompass?

The NC Clean Energy Data Book explores existing and potential clean energy (ex. renewable energy and energy efficiency) infrastructure and opportunities in every region of our state.  With over 100 maps, charts, and tables, the publication is the first comprehensive North Carolina clean energy landscape overview of its kind.  This new resource helps to evaluate and understand how the different and unique elements of this rapidly growing industry fit together to provide more than 12,500 jobs and economic opportunities for our citizens. (Note: Jobs number based on NCSEA’s 2010 Industries Census, released in October.  The 2011 Census will be released this fall.)  North Carolina continues to be one of the leading clean energy states in the Southeast – and becoming a national and international leader in several areas such as smart grid and solar.

“This report provides a valuable resource for all of us concerned with clean, renewable energy in North Carolina,” said Jennifer Bumgarner, Assistant Secretary for Energy at the NC Department of Commerce.  The Perdue Administration, including the Commerce Department, legislators, many of our state’s seven economic development regional partnerships and local chambers of commerce have made encouraging investments in our clean energy economy a centerpiece of their job creation strategy. “This fast growing industry holds vast potential for the future and we must continue to support its development in North Carolina,” said Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco earlier this year when announcing projects and job creations across 16 North Carolina clean energy small businesses. 

The NC Clean Energy Data Book starts with a state overview of the clean energy landscape in North Carolina, including a comparative look at energy costs to consumers across the different energy providers.  Maps and figures detail where each of the state’s over 1,800 registered renewable energy systems are located and highlight the system-wide generation capacity for each renewable technology. 

North Carolina’s renewable energy projects range from a single solar panel on a home to the 17.2 megawatt solar farm (approx. 63,000 solar panels) in the Triad’s Davidson County; a 100 kilowatt wind turbine at Appalachian State University in Boone; a 45 megawatt biomass project in New Bern; a three megawatt landfill gas project in Durham County; a 500 kilowatt hydroelectric project in Rockingham County; and 800+ geothermal systems (vertical borehole) that are used for ground source heat pumps, including the largest system in Nash County and the highest number of vertical wells in Onslow County. (NCSEA has placed numerous photos of projects across NC on its website and can connect reporters with clean energy companies in your media market for interviews. Click here to view photos.)

Several public policies passed in recent years have been effective at jump starting and encouraging greater development across North Carolina’s clean energy economy, including: the Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS) law, state tax credits, and the creation of NC GreenPower.

“The passage of the REPS law in 2007 and resulting success of the North Carolina’s clean energy market has created the rapid start-ups and expansions of clean energy businesses from installers to developers to manufacturers and the associated service sectors over the last few years,” said Ivan Urlaub, NCSEA’s Executive Director.  “However, many of our state’s clean energy companies and employees are now ‘hanging in the balance’ waiting for legislators to further improve our energy policies and create more market competition, which will further grow our economy, create more jobs and result in more projects.”

What is North Carolina’s Cheapest & Most Readily-Available Energy Resource? – Energy Savings

As we all know, renewable energy alone is not the state’s only clean energy resource – and this publication highlights both existing and potential energy efficiency elements of the clean energy landscape in North Carolina.  This includes over 1,500 existing commercial and governmental energy efficiency projects from the Energy Star and LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) programs.  The research found these projects are more prevalent in urban counties.  NCSEA also identifies an enormous potential for residential energy savings by retrofitting homes that were built prior to 1975 before North Carolina instituted insulation standards in our building code.  These residential retrofit opportunities are found in greater proportion in rural counties.

North Carolina’s 7 Regions – Who is Leading the Way?

The 2011 NC Clean Energy Data Book also provides detailed regional breakout analysis, which highlights key features of individual counties, renewable technology locations and capacity, commercial energy efficiency infrastructure and residential energy potential. Training opportunities are discussed, as is the expanding capabilities of North Carolina’s community colleges to offer workforce development training in the clean energy economy. Regional sections wrap up with a discussion about each region’s unique strengths and opportunities in the clean energy economy, as well as identifying areas of weakness and potential challenges.

The policies outlined above have supported a diverse, strong, and sustained investment in renewable energy technologies in rural and urban counties in North Carolina (see Exhibit 9 in publication).  Rural counties are home to a greater number of installed projects and total capacity across all renewable energy technologies except solar energy. Solar energy systems are more abundant—for both projects and capacity—in urban counties, characterized largely by rooftop systems.  The majority of the projects occur in the Research Triangle region of the state.

Regional Meetings to Discuss NC’s Clean Energy Economy & Trends - Join Us & Learn More!

NCSEA's staff is hitting the road and will hold several seminars across North Carolina in the coming weeks to discuss evolving clean energy trends for each region, including the results found in the 2011 NC Clean Energy Data Book.  The events will be co-hosted by regional economic development partnerships, local economic development groups and developers, educational institutions, and other local organizations.  The events are free of charge and open to the public.  The following seminars have been scheduled - additional events will be added very soon:

  • Tuesday, June 28, 2011: Caldwell Chamber of Commerce, 1909 Hickory Blvd. SE, Lenoir, 2-4pm.
  • Wednesday, Jun 29, 2011: Global Institute for Sustainability Technologies at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, Haynes Building, Rm 209, 1465 Sand Hill Rd., Candler, 2-4pm.
  • Tuesday, July 26, 2011: Perquimans Recreation Center, 310 Granby St., Hertford, 10:30am-12:30pm.


The NC Sustainable Energy Association
Founded in 1978, the NC Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA) is a 501(c)3 non-profit membership organization of individuals, businesses, government and non-profits working to ensure a sustainable future by promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency in North Carolina through education, public policy and economic development. NCSEA has been the “go-to” leader in shaping North Carolina's commitment to renewable energy, energy efficiency, high performance building and smart grid jobs and economic opportunities in communities all across our state. Learn more at

This 2011 NC Clean Energy Data Book is made possible through the generous support of the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view and policies of the Rural Economic Development Center. Spatial analysis contained in this report is made possible through a generous software grant from the Esri Nonprofit Organization Program.