A new, independent study of offshore wind energy generation and transmission initiatives in the Northeast U.S. has been released by The Brattle Group.

The report reinforces the strategic importance of developing a planned offshore grid to efficiently deliver wind farm electricity at the lowest cost and least disruption to the environment.

The study, released on May 30, notes that with 8,000 megawatts of combined offshore generation under consideration for Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey, “the development of offshore transmission grids that can interconnect multiple wind plants can offer significant advantages over reliance on individual generation tie lines.”  Such offshore grids that integrate multiple wind plants “would create scale economies and reduce the number of necessary landing points.” The study compares the relative advantages of generator lead lines – so-called “gen-ties” transmission developed by wind farm developers that connect directly to shore – with a shared grid that provides multiple connection points to a larger transmission system. According to the study, the advantages of an expanded offshore grid include:

  • An ocean grid reduces the risk that generator connections (gen-ties) of the first wind farms inefficiently use up available rights-of-ways, blocking subsequent developments;
  • The study notes that connecting 8,000MW with gen-ties would require 20 onshore landing points;
  • An ocean grid provides open access to enable more competition between wind developers;
  • An ocean grid would also enhance competition between experienced transmission developers;
  • An ocean grid would also provide more cost-effective development for wind farms that are farther offshore.

“As the Northeastern states move to procure large quantities of offshore wind, the Brattle Group study provides a timely roadmap for how carefully planned transmission can yield the best results for energy consumers, commercial fishing and shipping, and the marine environment,” said Kevin Knobloch, an executive with Anbaric Development Partners. “The study affirms why an ocean grid is a vital component of a long-term offshore wind energy initiative – and why we should be incorporating planned transmission from the outset as we build this new domestic offshore wind industry.”

The full study is available on The Brattle Group website, here.