BOSTON (SHNS) – Proactive planning for the transmission of more than 100 gigawatts of likely U.S. offshore wind power in the coming decades would lead to $20 billion in cost savings and far less disruption to shorelines and seabeds, according to a report commissioned by clean energy interests and released Tuesday.
The Brattle Group report estimated that planning could result in 60 to 70 percent fewer shoreline crossings, which also require onshore transmission upgrades and 50 percent fewer miles of marine transmission cables that need to be installed beneath seabeds. The report called for federal agencies, states, and grid operators to immediately begin collaborative planning to ensure that offshore wind is fed back to the grid in a cost-effective manner.
And researchers drew attention to several realities that appear to be impeding collaboration. The project-by-project approach at the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management stems from an agency that “does not currently have a well-defined or broadly understood maritime spatial planning and permitting process for offshore transmission that is distinct from offshore wind generators’ individual interconnection cables,” according to the report.
Planning challenges are also more severe for interregional transmission “as these needs are not well defined and no effective interregional transmission planning processes currently exist,” the report said, adding that regulatory and contractual frameworks for shared and networked operation and use of offshore transmission facilities “are not yet established.” The American Clean Power Association, the American Council on Renewable Energy, the Clean Air Task Force, GridLab, and the Natural Resources Defense Council commissioned the analysis.