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Atlantic Wind Connection in trouble?

Like most big, bold ideas, the Atlantic Wind Connection is risky, and this week's Bluewater announcement can hardly be a good portent. AWC - which is a transmission line, not a power-generation project - won't go forward without an offshore wind boom along the Atlantic Coast.

The Atlantic Wind Connection is a well-backed company that has embarked on a multi-billion dollar, decade-long project to build an undersea transmission cable stretching some 350 miles from northern New Jersey to southern Virginia.

It could bring down the cost of offshore wind projects, create a more reliable electricity grid along the east coast and create thousands of jobs. The Atlantic Ocean is well-suited for offshore winds because its relatively shallow waters extend for miles out to sea, so turbines can take advantage of stronger winds and they are barely visible from land.

"It's a scalable platform that literally creates a superhighway for offshore wind," said Michael Terrell, who leads energy policy at Google, a major investor in Atlantic Wind.

The bad news, announced this week: The only wind development that was taking shape in the AWC footprint, Bluewater Wind's 450 MW project, is on hold for the indefinite future.

The project, to be located off the coast of Delaware, has been in development since 2006.

Like most big, bold ideas, the Atlantic Wind Connection is risky, and this week's Bluewater announcement can hardly be a good portent. AWC - which is a... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The Atlantic Wind Connection is a well-backed company that has embarked on a multi-billion dollar, decade-long project to build an undersea transmission cable stretching some 350 miles from northern New Jersey to southern Virginia.

It could bring down the cost of offshore wind projects, create a more reliable electricity grid along the east coast and create thousands of jobs. The Atlantic Ocean is well-suited for offshore winds because its relatively shallow waters extend for miles out to sea, so turbines can take advantage of stronger winds and they are barely visible from land.

"It's a scalable platform that literally creates a superhighway for offshore wind," said Michael Terrell, who leads energy policy at Google, a major investor in Atlantic Wind.

The bad news, announced this week: The only wind development that was taking shape in the AWC footprint, Bluewater Wind's 450 MW project, is on hold for the indefinite future.

The project, to be located off the coast of Delaware, has been in development since 2006.

Like most big, bold ideas, the Atlantic Wind Connection is risky, and this week's Bluewater announcement can hardly be a good portent. AWC - which is a transmission line, not a power-generation project - won't go forward without an offshore wind boom along the Atlantic Coast. This is not a case of "if you build it, they will come." Until wind farms are developed, financed and approved, the transmission line can't go forward.

To put Bluewater's 450 MW farm into context, the Atlantic wind people would like their ocean-borne link to be capable of integrating 7,000 MW of offshore wind generation into the mid-Atlantic power market. The more turbines that are connected, the more the project makes economic sense, because its costs can be spread over a broader base of consumers.

Offshore wind is, unfortunately, very expensive - more expensive than solar photovoltaic energy, more than twice the costs of ground-based wind, and three to four times more expensive than power plants that burn natural gas, at least at today's low natural gas prices, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. With all those obstacles arrayed against the Atlantic Wind Connection, why pay attention at all?

Essentially, because of the backers. Google isn't known for being dumb. Rick Needham, green business operations director at Google, says the company invested because the project "offers a solid financial return while helping to accelerate offshore wind development."

The other investors involved in AWC are heavyweights, too. They included Good Energies, a global investment firm that focuses on renewable energy and energy efficiency, and Marubeni, a publicly-traded Japanese conglomerate, and others have since signed on. 15 Dec. 2011.


Source: http://www.electricitypolic...

DEC 16 2011
http://www.windaction.org/posts/32703-atlantic-wind-connection-in-trouble
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