Last night, Google announced that it has agreed to invest heavily in a proposed $5 billion, 350-mile power transmission backbone that would provide infrastructure for future offshore wind projects along the mid-Atlantic coast. But even with the backing of one of the world's mightiest tech companies, various financial investment firms, and many important officials in government, the transmission line is going to be something of a technological trick.
The Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC) will stretch from New Jersey to Virginia, moving power up and down the shoreline to the highest capacity markets along the coast. As envisioned, it would eventually link some 6,000 megawatts worth of offshore wind turbines into the land-based transmission system, supplementing traditional power infrastructure with enough power to serve some 1.9 million households. Even before wind farms are constructed, the AWC would ferry cheaper power from southern Virginia to expensive energy markets in New Jersey.
The cable itself will be copper lined with about 2 inches of insulation, and it will be big; each foot of cable will weigh about 30 pounds. To bury it in the seafloor a jet plow – a tool that shoots ocean water into the sea floor at high to pressures to blast a trench – will cut a path for the cable, which will eventually be covered over again with sediment.
There are already some undersea transmission lines running off the Atlantic Coast, but this is the first line that will collect power from generators along the way. This presents a particular technological challenge. The AWC will carry direct current rather than alternating current like the onshore grid. DC is more efficient at moving power over long distances, but DC works best for point-to-point transmission rather than lines that have many inputs and outputs along the way.
To make the AWC work efficiently, the system will employ a series of substations along the way that section it off into a series of direct journeys rather than long line with lots of entry and exit points. Like offshore oil platforms, these intermittent platforms will absorb the power from future wind farms and introduce it to the grid via four connection point in Virginia, Delaware, and southern and northern New Jersey, saving wind developments the trouble and expense of having to build their own connections to shore. That in turn should lower the cost of entry for offshore wind projects, hopefully spurring development along the coast and making way for a future where alternative energies make up a bigger share of America's energy portfolio.
Now if only someone would invest this heavily into undersea turbines.
Giant waste of money which will surely go bankrupt when tenth the cost nuclear forces scheming politicians to end the lucrative (for them) wind power subsidy business.
$20B/Gw $24 cents a kwh going to 34 cents over 15 years. Who is going to buy into that?
Wind produces no net energy because of that need to load balance with low efficiency fast spooling gas plant. Better, cheaper, less GHG to build slow spooling high efficiency CCGT plant instead.
Google big-wind-how-many-households-served for more
Big Oil loves wind power - just a convenient reason to stuff Big Oils pockets with gas sales.
Even the NREL doesn't think offshore wind is cost effective
Google spinning-offshore-wind-science-and.html for more
All of Australian powered by wind solar and biomass was at $1.20 a kwh a much as hundred times the cost of mass produced nuclear and impossible with current engineering. Canada would be worse.
Google zca2020-critique for more
Current Asian costs of American designed AP-1000 nukes built by American engineers are under $2B/Gw and are anticipated to hit $1B/Gw - cheaper than the gas capital cost - shortly with mass production and 3 year lead times.
Candu costs are predicted even lower by AECL.
Nuclear Waste? the usual canard.
All the worlds nuclear waste would fit it the Great Pyramid at Giza which has lasted 5000 years. Better we let a billion people die than lose a football field forever? And the stuff is not waste it is fuel waiting for recycle enough to power the world for hundreds of years. Whats left is such low level it could be stuffed back in an uranium mine shaft.
Every year the conversion of fossil fuels to nuclear with worthless distraction like wind is delayed results in the deaths of three million souls from coal air pollution and the deaths of billions as we are led inevitably to the as little as ten years away civilization ending climate and peak oil crisis.
5 billion dollars can set up several space based reflector for beamed energy. We could use inferred lasers or radio waves. Beamed energy of choice would be radio waves that would bounce off a reflector in orbit to a receiving station back on earth. ECHO 1, 100 foot Inflatable balloon, was the first communication satellite in space that first tested this technology.
See "Proposal to Beam Untapped and Hard to Transport Energy to Any Location on Earth" here:
I agree that wind is not going to be cost-competitive. What I predict is that Virginia will start selling lots of electricity in the New Jersey market, as the article mentions briefly. So the cable will at least have utility as part of the power grid.
So $6.8B ($5B +$1.8B) for 6 GWpk or 2.4 GWavg - that's for their assumed Capacity Factor of 40.5% - which is probably high (Wind Turbine companies almost always overestimate C.F.) So ignoring the additional costs of branch lines and further costs after the first phase - that's $2.8k per kwavg. THE COST OF A NUCLEAR POWER PLANT. That's just for the Power Transmission Backbone. What about the other 60% of the power - Oh that will come from burning CO2 & Methane spewing NG power plants - and additional cost to the public. So $15-20k per kwavg for the Offshore Wind Turbines, $2.8k for the power transmission backbone plus $2k for the NG shadowing power plant = $20k to $25k per avg kw del'd. Compare with Nuclear at $2-5K per avg kw. And the cycling inefficiencies induced in the shadowing NG power source will burn as much NG as the Wind would theoretically save. A COMPLETE WASTE OF MONEY!
Emissions INCREASE, due to Wind Energy in Colorado:
I agree with yall, unfortunately all anybody knows about nuke plants is chernoble, and 3 mile island. So they 'er all scared about meltdowns and terroist. Sad little people.
So at the Virginia end Google buys lotsa coal power to fill in for the 90% of the time the wind is slack and all the wind projects have been turned down by outraged taxpayers. These slicks then sell at the Jersey end for 6 cents a kwh more (this is not allowed today) because the dumbass greenies shutdown nuclear in New England in the seventies .
So lets see 6 GW 24/7 at 90% hmm works out to $47B annual profit on the $5B 'green' investment selling dirty coal power to suckers in Jersey.
You beat me to it SJak. I'm glad someone else noticed waters 800-fold density over air. Maybe Google is (was) planning it as a super-secret setup? They seem to be optimistic, and aggressively so.
Suppose the cables can carry all 6 Gigawatts even though the wind turbines can only give a fraction reliably. Well, meanwhile, undersea turbines deliver the same. Reliably and for less. And as soon as all the tech is proven: Hey -isn't that the *gulf stream* just a couple hundred miles further out? He-he. Japan would be kicking themselves.
Here's hoping. (The copiously cheep power thing, not necessarily the self-kicking Japanese.)
Wind power is just an excuse. The obvious motive is that Virginia has about half the electricity price that New Jersey has.
If they had sold it as a means to arbitrage electricity prices and import coal and nuclear power from industry friendly Virgina to unfriendly New Jersey they would never have been allowed to build the power line. At least not without years of litigation.
Correction to my comment above. It was late at night.
6 GW 24/7 at 90% works out to as much as $3B annual profit
I wonder how far this project will go in making the power grid more versatile &/or reliable? It seems to me it's greatest asset will be in restoring power to the Atlantic Seacoast following a major event (Hurricanes, Solar Flares, Terrorists, etc). It may be a good investment simply in that regard.
Makes a lot of sense considering they would all be wiped out if the mountain in the Azores island slides into the Atlantic and creates a 1000 foot tsunami. It's happened before and will happen again.
Well, it would appear to me that if the massive undertaking is to come to fruition, we shouldn't forget Ocean Wave Energy, after all, water is 750 times more dense than air right? I'd also like to ask about the Wind Turbines which produce ultra-sound which can help detect incoming Stealth Aircraft from potential enemies. Meaning, maybe we need this along all of our coastlines, and may as well catch some of that wave energy plus the wind as well? Might also be a good place to re-charge underwater unmanned robotic sentinel submarines too. Think.
Interesting reading all the comments that strike against wind and often in favor of nuclear. I ask one question, if nuclear were so good, why have no nuclear power plants been built since the mid 90's (last one), and none permitted since the 70's.
And then why have there been 37000 megawatts of wind turbine capacity been built in the US and nearly 80,000 megawatts world wide, all in about the last 5-7 years. Why is Sweden closing in on the 20% energy by wind goal. Why can Spain install so much solar and wind power.
The other argument that I keep hearing is we cannot transmit power long distances, yet China has no problem doing so with UHVDC by Siemens systems. Because the assumption that you cannot transmit power without significant loss is a myth. You can.
Then there is the bird thing. Yes, all standing objects kill birds, not just wind turbines. Do you think birds preferentially run in to wind turbines versus cell phone towers, power lines, telephone poles, houses, buildings? I have a house with a few glass doors and adjacent winds. Birds run in to them I would say on average 2-5 times a day, and that is when we are sitting there. I would say we have about 5 birds killed a year by running into my 20 sq ft of glass. Multiply that times millions.
Oh, did you know that there are 300,000 deer killed each year by cars/trucks? Why are birds more important than deer? But we don't stop driving now do we.
Then there is the "wind is intermittent" argument. I gotta love that one too. "We have to build back-up power" many will say. Hmmm, we have nearly zero percent of our power created by wind now, yet our lights stay on. So how is it that by installing now more generating capacity with wind suddenly we will have a problem? Not going to happen. Plus, we the US, the so called smart people fail to just look at places like Sweden to try to figure out why they can have effective wind power systems and we cannot.
I could go on and on. I happen to have a house on the coast of New Jersey and just watch the wind blow the waves, thinking of all the energy we let go buy. Unfortunately I do not believe the wind projects will ever get built. Too much pressure from the coal industry that is pushing their "clean, green, coal" lie.
Google's got the right idea... fleece the green sheep.
If a bad idea is big enough, there is usually a way for SOMEONE to make some money.
And Google is there.