Spur Jobs and Economic Growth
Capturing the enormous potential of offshore wind energy along the
Mid-Atlantic coast took a significant step forward today with the
announcement of the Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC) backbone
transmission project led by well-established independent transmission
company Trans-Elect and sponsored by Good Energies, Google (NASDAQ:
GOOG) and Marubeni Corporation (TYO: 8002).
Designed to accelerate offshore wind development, the AWC project will
help the industry create thousands of jobs, improve consumer access to
clean energy sources, and increase the reliability of the Mid-Atlantic
region's existing power grid.
"This new American super grid off the Mid-Atlantic coast will unlock
an important untapped resource, creating the foundation for a new
industry and jobs for thousands of American workers," said Bob
Mitchell, CEO of Trans-Elect.
The Mid-Atlantic region offers more than 60,000 MW of offshore wind
potential in the relatively shallow waters of the outer continental
shelf. These shallow waters, which extend miles out to sea, allow for
the development of large, distant wind farms, mitigating visibility
issues and allowing for greater energy capture from stronger winds.
With few other renewable energy options ideally suited for the
Atlantic coast, this transmission project will help states meet their
renewable energy goals and standards by enabling the local offshore
wind industry to deploy thousands of megawatts of clean,
Without a transmission backbone, offshore wind developers would be
forced to bring energy to land via radial lines that can make
balancing the region's existing grid more difficult. In addition, a
single offshore backbone with a limited number of landfall points will
minimize the environmental impacts of building multiple individual
radial lines to shore. The AWC project not only reduces the need to
build many lower-capacity transmission lines, but relieves grid
congestion in one of two National Interest Electric Transmission
Corridors which were deemed to have significant transmission network
congestion and need speedy creation of transmission capacity.
When complete, the AWC backbone will be able to connect 6,000 MW of
offshore wind, enough power to serve approximately 1.9 million
households. The system is also scalable and can be expanded to
accommodate additional offshore wind energy as the industry further
develops. The use of High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) technology
allows for easier integration and control of multiple wind farms while
avoiding the electrical losses associated with more typical High
Voltage Alternating Current (HVAC) lines. With this strong backbone in
place, larger and more energy efficient wind farms can connect to
offshore power hubs further out to sea. These power hubs will in turn
be connected via sub-sea cables to the strongest, highest capacity
parts of the land-based transmission system.
In addition to enabling the production of thousands of megawatts of
clean power, the AWC backbone will help spur the creation of local
jobs. Development of wind energy off the Atlantic coast could create
between 133,000 and 212,000 U.S. jobs according to Oceana, an
ocean-conservation group. The U.S. Department of Energy also estimates
that more than 43,000 permanent operations and maintenance jobs would
be created if 54,000 MW of offshore wind turbines were installed by
2030. For comparison, the offshore wind industry in Europe is expected
to create 215,000 new jobs by 2030.
The Obama Administration, as well as Governors, Members of Congress
and key state legislators from New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and
Virginia, have expressed strong support for offshore wind development.
"The AWC backbone will both relieve transmission congestion in one of
the nation's most restricted power markets as well as enable the
development of a huge offshore wind capacity that can bring stability
and security to the Eastern Power Grid," said John Breckenridge,
Managing Director at Good Energies. "With this line in place, offshore
projects can be constructed at lower cost, with less impact on the
environment and with the ability to deliver power wherever it is
needed along the Mid-Atlantic coast."
"We're excited about the potential of this project to help the
Mid-Atlantic states meet their renewable energy goals by providing a
platform that can rapidly accelerate the deployment of clean offshore
wind at lower total cost," said Rick Needham, Director of Green
Business Operations at Google. "Transmission is one of the key
constraints to the wider adoption of clean energy, so this project was
a natural fit with our corporate goal of investing in attractive
renewable energy projects that can have dramatic impact."
"The U.S. will require large investments in its electric transmission
grid to meet its renewable and energy independence goals," said
Richard Straebel, Executive Vice President of Marubeni Power
International. "Over the past few years this sector has been an
increasingly important part of Marubeni's U.S. power market activities
and we are very excited about our role in this strategic and
AWC's filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission later this
year will outline details of the project including how it benefits
consumers and businesses by improving power flows across the region.
The project will continue collaborating with developers and officials
to map the optimal path for the line. To begin construction, AWC will
need approval from federal, state, regional and local regulators as
well as from PJM, the region's grid operator.