Some very exciting news for US clean energy today. Google announced on their blog last night that they will invest in a project to build 350 miles of transmission off the Atlantic coast from New Jersey to Virginia to tap into gigantic off-shore wind potential that we are only just beginning to tap into — the first-ever US approval of an off-shore wind farm, by the Obama administration, was just this year.
The new transmission cables, a superhighway for clean energy, will enable the connection of up to 6,000 MW of offshore wind turbines. That’s equivalent to 60% of the wind energy that was installed in the entire country last year and enough to serve approximately 1.9 million households.
Putting this system in place removes a major barrier to offshore wind energy in the US: lack of infrastructure. And it should — with a friendly administration — jump-start off-shore wind in this country. The US currently lags so far behind Europe that the first off-shore farm approved, this year’s Cape Wind, which signed the US’ first offshore wind energy lease last week, was reduced to using German turbines (Siemens).
Google’s new superhighway of energy will be built by transmission company Trans-Elect and be financed by Google, Good Energies and Marubeni Corporation.
Google points out in their blog that just a beginning is needed at this early stage. “We are investing 37.5% of the equity in this initial development stage, with the goal of obtaining all the necessary approvals to finance and begin constructing the line. Although the development stage requires only a small part of the total estimated project budget, it represents a critical stage for the project.”
These four mid-Atlantic states are the middle states central to a consortium of what is now 11 Atlantic states whose governors have signed an agreement to develop their tremendous off-shore wind potential, which has been estimated at 330 Gigawatts in total, more than twice what the 11 states use.
Polling of the 5 mid-Atlantic state coastal residents has found that they are very supportive of the development of their off-shore wind (previous story).
These four mid-Atlantic states that Google proposes to get started with have more than 60 GW (60,000 MW) of this gigantic off-shore wind potential in relatively shallow waters that extend miles out to sea, making it easier to install turbines 10-15 miles offshore, where they are barely visible.
This is a historic milestone for the USA. Total off-shore wind power off the Atlantic has been estimated to be enough to take one third of the US population off the fossil grid.
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