New Tool Makes Wind Farm Planning off Georgia Easier

Georgia Tech and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) have launched a new marine spatial planning tool to define a clear process for offshore energy licensing and permitting in US state of Georgia, and close data and communication gaps between regulatory agencies that could delay the permitting process.

The Georgia Coastal and Marine Planner (GCAMP), sponsored through a five-year grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), creates a central repository for public data and information relating to Georgia’s coastline. The application provides industry, governmental agencies, and research institutions engaged in the planning and management of Georgia’s ocean resources, with a series of tools and interactive maps to aid in the assessment of potential locations for offshore development.

The main GCAMP map includes tools for measuring; drawing, creating charts; and for querying the available data. Users can choose from a list of queries, such as wind farm suitability by Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Lease Blocks, or set specific parameters for their own query.

Using GCAMP data, the team developed a hypothetical case study of the permitting and licensing process for a potential wind farm project to suggest a potential process through which state and federal agencies could explore whether and, if so, how to facilitate energy development in Georgia’s coastal waters.

Georgia’s coastline provides an infinite supply of natural wind and ocean resources that have the potential to substantially contribute to the state’s energy supply, Georgia Tech said in a statement. Development of these coastal resources has progressed slowly, in part, because US state and federal laws regarding the use of coastal waters for offshore energy development are still evolving and no structure is currently in place for local and state permitting.

“GCAMP establishes a transparent and open processes for fostering better understanding among stakeholders about what is happening in Georgia’s ocean areas, what resources and human uses are located where, and the potential implications of changes in the uses of resources located in the state’s coastal waters,” said Jill Huntington Andrews, program manager for Georgia DNR’s Coastal Resources Division.