Google executives have signed an agreement to invest in development of a backbone power-transmission project off the Mid-Atlantic coast that offers a financial return while helping accelerate offshore wind development. The new project will create thousands of jobs, says Google, improve consumer access to clean energy sources, and increase the reliability of the Mid-Atlantic region’s existing power grid.
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 6,000 MW of offshore wind turbines. That’s equivalent to 60% of the wind energy installed in the entire country last year. The AWC backbone will be built around offshore power hubs that will collect the power from multiple offshore wind farms and deliver it efficiently by sub-sea cables to the strongest, highest capacity parts of the land-based transmission system. The system will act as a superhighway for clean energy. By putting strong, secure transmission in place, the project removes a major barrier to scaling up offshore wind, an industry that despite its potential, only had its first federal lease signed recently and still has no operating projects in the U.S.
Locating the project offshore wind and in the Mid-Atlantic makes good sense. Many coastal areas in the U.S. have large populations but limited access to a high-quality land-based wind resource. Coastal states can take advantage of their most promising renewable resource by using larger wind farms with larger turbines that can take advantage of stronger and steadier winds offshore.
The Mid-Atlantic region is ideal for offshore wind. It offers more than 60,000 MW of offshore wind potential in relatively shallow waters that extend miles out to sea. These shallow waters make it easier to install turbines 10 to 15 miles offshore, meaning wind projects can take advantage of stronger winds and are almost out-of-sight from land.
Filed Under: News, Offshore wind