Top Story: October 12, 2010

Offshore Wind Gets Connected

transmission

Google and an investment firm that specializes in renewable energy signed an agreement yesterday to develop (and fund) a transmission line in the Atlantic that will carry offshore wind power to eastern states.

According to The Official Google Blog:

When built out, the Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC) backbone will stretch 350 miles off the coast from New Jersey to Virginia and will be able to connect 6,000MW of offshore wind turbines. That’s equivalent to 60% of the wind energy that was installed in the entire country last year and enough to serve approximately 1.9 million households.

The construction on the line—a copper cable with insulation and shielding that will not be buried—will not begin until 2013. Initially, the line will potentially carry cheap electricity from Virginia to New Jersey, where costs are high. The plan calls for offshore wind power transmission to begin in 2021.

The entire project is set to cost $5 billion and Google and their partners realize offshore wind is not the cheapest investment, but they’re in it for the long haul. From the New York Times:

Generating electricity from offshore wind is far more expensive than relying on coal, natural gas or even onshore wind. But energy experts anticipate a growing demand for the offshore turbines to meet state requirements for greater reliance on local renewable energy as a clean alternative to fossil fuels.

The Academy reported on offshore wind in April, when a paper was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences describing the need and efficiency of a transmission line, linking the offshore wind turbines for consistent delivery. The Green Blog in the New York Times describes this project fulfilling that idea:

… the new proposal for an Atlantic Wind Connection is actually about a series of links terminating at substations built on platforms that would sit in the ocean like oil drilling platforms, except, of course, these are clean-energy installations harnessing wind power. They would have to be hurricane-proof and include a spot where a service vessel could moor. Wind farms would tie into the system here.

One step closer to greener, cleaner, and consistent energy…

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