During the last ice age, glaciers a mile high pushed several dozen cubic miles of rock, sand and debris into the ocean off North America's mid-Atlantic coast, creating a broad shelf that extends up to 40 miles offshore. This long, flat stretch of seabed and the shallow, windy waters that cover it make the ideal spot for dozens of offshore wind farms—and if all goes well, the network that would link those turbines together and back to the coast will soon be in place.
Offshore wind power has significant advantages over the onshore variety. Uninterrupted by changes in terrain, the wind at sea blows steadier and stronger. Installing turbines far enough from shore that they're invisible except on the very clearest days lessens the possibility of not-in-my-backyard resistance. The challenge is getting the electricity back to land, to the people who will use it.
The Maryland-based transmission-line company Trans-Elect proposes to do just that with a $5-billion undersea power grid that would stretch some 350 miles from northern New Jersey to southern Virginia. The Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC) would provide multiple transmission hubs for future wind farms, making the waters off the mid-Atlantic coast an attractive and economical place for developers to set up turbines. The AWC's lines could transmit as much as six gigawatts of low-carbon power from turbines back to the coast—the equivalent capacity of 10 average coal-fired power plants.
So far, the project has attracted backing from Google, the clean-energy investment firm Good Energies, and the Japanese trading company Marubeni. Trans-Elect says it plans to begin construction on phase I—a $1.8 billion, 150-mile span from Delaware Bay to Atlantic City—in 2013, and that section could be operational by 2016.
To appreciate the novelty and potential of the Atlantic Wind Connection, it helps to understand the building blocks of an offshore wind system. At its simplest, offshore wind transmission involves connecting a group of wind turbines to an AC transmission cable, which will carry the electricity they generate back to land. (Nearly every wind turbine on the market today generates AC power, the standard for the terrestrial grid.) But AC cables are generally efficient only over short distances, particularly when they're used underground or underwater.
Nice! Taking a page from the current digital transmission infrastructure and applying it to power, great idea! And being a clean power, this could be the 1st baby steps to a productive green power supply that will only grow and won't effect our usable land. And since these farms *should* be far enough off shore that it will have an extremely minimal effect on avian life forms. The prospect of weather alteration does sit on the "Cons" side of the scale, but I think overall, the scale is still tipped to the "Pros" side.
Only wish this could be sped up and implemented sooner, rather than later.
Nicely written article
:you know this hole my back yard thng is stupid i would be glad to see this in my back yard it would mean fresh air and clean energy i would get to look at a brighter future everyday put it in my back yard any time you want. And i am so glad people finally stepped up on this so tired of the its to expensive money dont mean shit when the planet dies.
We've had a bunch of these go up back home. I don't mind them at all. They're kinda fun to watch as you're goin down the highway or just to ride cycle out to the road beside them and just look up at their sheer size. Besides, I'd much rather see them than a coal power plant.
Some power storage plants will perfectly go with the offshore wind farms. The peak power can be stored for later usage. The system can deliver an all year nonstop dependable and predictable power same as a regular coal or gas or nuclear plant.
To implement the power storage plant molten salts can be used and/or high pressure steam.
Compressed air at the bottom of the sea will do too.
Large very efficient batteries can work too.
Gravity based solutions can also be considered.
With the off chance that global warning is not fiction I hope they add a fudge factor for both Tsunamis and Rising sea levels
meant to say "warming" or better yet climate change
wish there was a way to edit a comment
Pierrek, global warming happens on a regular basis on this planet, "man made" global worming is a myth, it would happen if we were here or not. although we are doing a stand up job of polluting the planet so designs like this are paramount to not creating an uninhabitable world for ourselves...
damn, warming* ... I agree with you on the editing comments thing haha
Distributed wind - another canard from the Big Oil denier shop. For sometimes weeks on end the entire Atlantic seaboard has almost no wind at all most especially in the summer. So what do we do then - let our freezers melt, shut er down and head to the beach.
This exactly the experience with offshore wind in England, Bonneville's wind plant which covers two states, and Ontario's.
Big Oil knows relying on wind power can have but one effect - a huge increase in gas sales and associated GHG's. Build 1 Gw of wind you need 1 Gw of low efficiency fast spooling gas plant that needs to be paid for.
Nope the real reason is found in the dirt cheap Virginia coal power that Google uses to fill in in 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 low information greenies shutdown nuclear in New England in the seventies .
So lets see 6 GW 24/7 at 90% hmm works out to as much as $3B annual profit on the $5B 'green' investment selling dirty coal power to suckers in Jersey. Nice gig huh
sethdayal, you are a dolt.
The biggest issue with your argument is that you are comparing coastal winds with off shore winds. News flash, there is *ALWAYS* wind over at least 1 major section the Atlantic. With distributed farms up and down the entire "coast line" (which isn't really on the coast since they are talking MILES off shore!) than just because it's calm in one area, does not mean it's calm in another. Creating more energy than is being used creates surplus for use when production is surpassed by demand. Neysaying a project or idea based on facts that you don't fully understand is daft. I live in New England, and I've NEVER in my 30+ years seen it go "weeks on end" with no substantal wind on the coast, go out 20 or 30 miles for some deep sea fishing and you'll have a totally different outlook on sea shelf based wind power.
CodeZero, you need to learn a little bit about offshore Wind energy.
Latest Big offshore Wind Farm in Germany - started production 10 yrs after first application, 3 yrs after 1st construction, and $18k per kwavg!!! That's >4X First-of-a-kind reliable, 24/7 Nuclear Power. And after 2 MONTHS of operation all six 5MW turbines failed and have to be replaced.
These wacked out claims on Wind will reduce wholesale electricity prices (while costing 3-5X market price?) and reduce peak demand ( by creating a whole bunch of new peaks & valleys? - like that helps?!?) are debunked here:
What a waste of money for a useless form of power that DOES NOT REDUCE CO2 EMISSIONS
What a shame to have these Nuclear radiation necrosis damaged clowns trying to push their doomsday machine off on the people, by making up nonsense about alternative power supplies. Spain get's 21% of their power from wind and Germany and China, as well as the USA, are installing wind power as fast as possible. The article clearly states that the control centers of the grid deal with supply and demand fluctuations, and even help to improve existing grid problems. There are always fluctuations in demand. The people in Japan are learning about the qualities of nuclear power, but the bottom line is negative. Visit the Union of Concerned Scientists to see the history of nuclear power safety as well as the real cost of nuclear power. Nuclear power derserves a quick and deep burial.
Great idea! I wish it could be in effect sooner on a Much Much larger scale
So this doesn't reduce CO2. It sure doesn't add to it, as do the coal/gas-fired plants at the rate of thousands of tons a day. Oh, well, always the naysayers of something good. Afraid it'll cut into their energy portfolio, maybe. Don't worry, folks. Since we're about 40 years behind on getting started, you'll probably be dead before it reduces your Big Oil shares any. Meanwhile, my grandkids just might be able to enjoy a little cleaner air.
Dear Popular Science, David Roberts, and Readers,
I enjoyed reading your article.
However, I am a retired Architectural Engineer. I always assumed, that if something sounds to good to be true, usually, it is. I always saved my clients tons of money by NOT, using new technologies.
Although, I have been retired for several years now, I have TRIED, to follow alternative energies.
Unfortunately, when I go to the source of such articles or technologies
they clam up real quick. I ask such unthinkable questions like;
Who did your preliminary analysis, what are there qualifications?
What parameters were taken into consideration and why?
What is your projected return on your investment?
The claim, "wind power, cheaper then coal", is worthy of an article in its self.
So on and so forth...
A lot of tax money is involved in this project.
I want to see alternative energies developed. But, I don't want to see no pie in the sky.
I did enjoy the article, but now, I would really like to see some real scientific research data, by real scientist and real engineers, as a follow up.