Energy investor Good Energies, Google and Marubeni Corporation are investing in the Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC) backbone transmission project. The AWC project is led by independent transmission company Trans-Elect. The 350-mile (563-km) long transmission backbone will provide approximately 6,000 MW of offshore wind capacity, enough power to serve 1.9 million households, when fully complete.
|The AWC. Source: Google. Click to enlarge.|
Good Energies, an experienced investor in the development of renewable energy projects across North America, Europe and Asia, and Google are each investing 37.5% of the development capital in the early stage of the project.
The AWC backbone will be built around offshore power hubs that will collect the power from multiple offshore wind farms and deliver it via sub-sea cables to the strongest, highest-capacity parts of the land-based transmission system. 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 last week and still has no operating projects in the US, Google noted.
The Mid-Atlantic region 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 10-15 miles offshore, meaning wind projects can take advantage of stronger winds and are virtually out-of-sight from land. With few other renewable energy options ideally suited for the Atlantic coast, the AWC backbone helps states meet their renewable energy goals and standards (PDF) by enabling a local offshore wind industry to deploy thousands of megawatts of clean, cost-effective wind energy.
The AWC backbone is critical to more rapidly scaling up offshore wind because without it, offshore wind developers would be forced to build individual radial transmission lines from each offshore wind project to the shore, requiring additional time consuming permitting and environmental studies and making balancing the grid more difficult. The AWC project relieves grid congestion in one of two National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors which were deemed to have significant network congestion and need speedy creation of transmission capacity.
Markian Melnyk developed the AWC concept while researching “Offshore Power”, his book on offshore renewable energy. Melnyk was first joined by H.D. Kenneth Epp and Mohamed El- Gasseir, industry leaders in the systematic integration of high-voltage direct current transmission at DC Interconnect; Eli Farrah, an expert in transmission regulation at Dewey & LeBouef; and then Marty Walicki, Paul McCoy and Robert Mitchell, experienced transmission system owners and developers at Trans-Elect. These principals have formed Atlantic Grid Development, LLC, the project’s developer. Paul McCoy is CEO of AGD and Dewey & LeBouef is counsel to the project.