Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Clean Power

Underwater Transmission Could be the Solution to Get a Renewable Wind-Powered USA

Generating 20 percent of America’s electricity with wind, which is crucial to our future safety, growth and prosperity, would require building up to 22,000 miles of new high-voltage transmission lines.

But how to get renewable energy from the empty windy plains far from population centers, when nobody ever wants to see any more transmission line built anywhere near anybody? Ever?


Here’s one novel solution. Transmission cables placed out of sight under water provide an apparently uncontroversial way to send renewable electricity from the isolated and desolate areas of the nation that are abundant in wind – to where we live, inside heavy cables down the coasts under the ocean, or  along riverbeds or along the floors of lakes.

To put it another way: “The fish don’t vote,” as Edward M. Stern of PowerBridge, one company that is now working on laying underwater cable to send power down the Atlantic coast, told Mathew Wald of The New York Times.Stern’s company has already succeeded in building a 65-mile offshore cable from New Jersey to Long Island and is now working another that would bring wind power from Maine along the Atlantic coast into Boston. Not a peep out of the opposition.

Because you can’t see underwater cables carrying electrical power, they engender little of the opposition that land based transmission does. Underwater transmission lines for electricity could make off-shore wind power easier for bringing wind from the plains states to the coasts where most of the US population is, down the Missouri River and other rivers that traverse the USA.

A Canadian underwater transmission company,  Transmission Developers proposes putting in a 370-mile line along the bottom of Lake Champlain from Canada, down the Hudson River past New York and down the coast to Connecticut; in one of the longest submarine power cables in the world, and will bring Canadian hydroelectric power to New York.

Underwater transmission involves cables unrolled from giant reels, and some help from gravity lays them down into place. Currently they cost more, mostly for transforming the electricity to direct current needed for underwater cable, and because the technology is not yet widely used.

But in general direct current is getting a new look, because over long distances from likely renewable energy sources, it has lower line losses. It is increasingly being considered for the much needed overhaul of the central grids.

New technology offered by two European companies, Siemens and ABB, has lowered the cost for some direct current projects, and shrunk the size of the terminals where alternating current is converted to direct current and back, a crucial consideration in urban projects.

Underwater cable still costs more than twice as much as the tower type. Standard lines hung on towers run up to $4 million a mile, depending on terrain and other factors. But PowerBridge’s 65 mile cable cost about $600 million, or a bit over $9 million a mile.

However,  quibbling over the cost of something that is practically impossible to get built, compared with something that can be and is being built is a bit silly. As the CEO of Transmission Developers puts it:

“If you can’t get them built, because the communities you want to serve don’t want them, then in our opinion they are infinitely expensive.”

Image: Wikipedia

Source: The New York Times

More susan/” target=”_blank”>Cleantechnica from Susan Kraemer: Journalists on <a href="" target="_blank

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Former Tesla Battery Expert Leading Lyten Into New Lithium-Sulfur Battery Era — Podcast:

I don't like paywalls. You don't like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it! We just don't like paywalls, and so we've decided to ditch ours. Unfortunately, the media business is still a tough, cut-throat business with tiny margins. It's a never-ending Olympic challenge to stay above water or even perhaps — gasp — grow. So ...
If you like what we do and want to support us, please chip in a bit monthly via PayPal or Patreon to help our team do what we do! Thank you!
Written By

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today and Renewable Energy World.  She has also been published at Wind Energy Update, Solar Plaza, Earthtechling PV-Insider , and GreenProphet, Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.


You May Also Like


BMW is stepping up from vehicle-to-grid EV charging to kick vehicle-to-everything (V2X) into gear, with an assist from the California utility PG&E

Air Quality

The pockets of the future are small towns in Europe and Australia, while an oil and gas giant in India is pushing vastly more...

Clean Transport

Kenya’s Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) recently approved new electricity tariffs effective 1 April. As part of this latest tariff review, EPRA introduced...

Clean Power

#Cleantechers, if you run point on community engagement for a renewable energy developer or EPC, you already know your work is harder than it...

Copyright © 2023 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.