By Barbara Vergetis Lundin
Electric power generated by wind resources has become an increasingly important part of the U.S. energy mix, with the majority of current production on land despite significant and accessible wind resources offshore, as well as significant technological developments for offshore wind production. In 2011, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) commissioned five organizations to coordinate and lead a study into the prospects of offshore wind energy production along coastal regions in the United States. The three-year “National Offshore Wind Energy Grid Interconnection Study” (NOWEGIS) has concluded — with promising results.
The NOWEGIS team — consisting of experts from Duke Energy, ABB, AWS Truepower, DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and the University of Pittsburgh – Swanson School of Engineering — helped determine the expected staging of offshore wind development in each of the coastal regions, developed expected wind generation production profiles, assessed the applicability of integration study methods to offshore wind production and a variety of offshore wind collection and delivery technologies, and considered regulatory issues that may influence the selection of technologies or the implementation of systems.
They found that the United States has sufficient offshore wind energy resources to consider having at least 54 GW of offshore wind. While the study focused on the ability to integrate up to 54 GW of offshore wind into the U.S. grid by 2030, it found that resources are available for significantly larger amounts. The study estimates that the 54 GW of offshore wind could reduce national annual electricity production costs by approximately $7.68 billion, which corresponds to approximately $41/MWh of offshore wind added to the grid — a savings that can help justify the high initial investment costs.
Further, the research found that technologies exist for the interconnection of large amounts of wind energy to the grid, including technologies for both high-voltage AC and high-voltage DC systems that can be used to bring offshore wind generated electricity to the onshore grid, as well as some technologies that may also help alleviate congestion in the onshore system.
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Jarrett Neil Ridlinghafer
Founder & CEO/CTO
Synapse Synergy Group, Inc.