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Study Finds 54 Gigawatts of Offshore Wind Capacity Technically Possible by 2030

September 11, 2014 - 3:33pm

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According to a new study funded by DOE, the United States has sufficient offshore wind energy resources to legitimize the installation of at least 54 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind capacity by 2030. The National Offshore Wind Energy Grid Interconnection Study (NOWEGIS) focused on two DOE objectives: reducing the cost of offshore wind energy and reducing the timeline of deployment. NOWEGIS was conducted by a team of leading energy organizations, including ABB, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Duke Energy, AWS Truepower, and the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering.

Using NREL’s Regional Energy Deployment System (ReEDS) model for electricity generation and transmission, the study surveyed appropriate locations (excluding military zones, shipping lanes, and other necessary locations) and calculated timelines for deployment that could result in 54 GW of offshore wind. NOWEGIS modeling also suggests that 5 GW of offshore wind power could be produced within a decade. In addition, the report points out that far more wind power could be generated if current exclusion zones, such as commercial shipping lanes, could be utilized.

According to NOWEGIS, bringing this amount of power ashore is possible using existing collection and interconnection technologies; both alternating current and direct current methods show promise in transporting offshore electricity to the land power grid.

At the national level, the NOWEGIS estimates that 54 GW of offshore wind energy could reduce the national annual electricity production costs by approximately $7.68 billion–corresponding to approximately $41 per megawatt-hour of offshore wind added to the grid–helping justify the high initial investment of offshore wind projects (Note that this represents operations costs and does not include capital costs).

Nevertheless, deployment of large quantities of offshore wind technology will depend on state policies, federal permitting processes, and technology improvements. State policies can encourage offshore wind deployment by creating demand for this resource through renewable portfolio standards that establish requirements for the purchase of offshore wind as part of a renewable energy portfolio based on state needs. Additionally, further technical improvements by government, industry, and academia in technologies such as cables, offshore platforms, and high-voltage direct-current converters, would contribute to accelerated commercialization and deployment of offshore wind power.

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