Expert Commentary

Offshore wind power and transmission grid expansion

2010 study by researchers from the University of Delaware and Stony Brook University on the potential of large-scale wind-farm networks.

Recent studies have shown that wind power has tremendous potential to meet growing electrical needs. Because wind patterns do not always correspond with electrical use, this potential can only be realized if a way is found to balance supply and demand.

A 2010 paper from researchers at University of Delaware and Stony Brook University, “Electric Power from Offshore Wind via Synoptic-Scale Interconnection,” explores a potential solution to this problem. Based on five years of wind data along the East Coast of the United States, the researchers determined that while winds shifted up and down the coast, they never stopped.

The researchers’ proposed solution is to connect strategically located offshore wind farms with an underwater transmission grid.

  • The proposed transmission grid, called the Atlantic Transmission Grid, is a north-south transmission along the cyclone track across the U.S. East Coast.
  • Despite the volatile wind power generated in the individual generators, the overall power volatility was moderated when a simulated transmission grid is built to connect them.
  • Compared with utility-scale storage, a common transmission grid is initially more expensive to construct, but in the long run is more cost efficient.

Because the proposed transmission grid crosses several state jurisdictions, the authors suggest that future energy policies consider resource management on a regional level.

Tags: carbon, technology, infrastructure, renewable energy

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