The Brattle Group has detailed onshore electric grid cost savings of over $1 billion and significantly reduced environmental impacts in adopting a multi-user, planned transmission system to harness wind power off New England’s coast in its recent report on offshore wind.
The report, Offshore Transmission in New England: The Benefits of a Better-Planned Grid, describes the limitations of connecting each wind farm to shore individually in comparison to a “planned” approach – a high-capacity offshore transmission system serving multiple wind farms, reducing marine cabling and optimizing onshore landing points.
“Developing a shared ocean grid is the most effective way to scale offshore wind,” says Edward N. Krapels, CEO of Anbaric.
“The next phase in achieving states’ goals depends on building transmission infrastructure in a way that reduces overall costs, protects fisheries and the environment, and enables continuing growth of New England’s best energy resource,” he adds.
Brattle’s research underscores the pivotal role of transmission policy in the development of New England’s offshore wind industry. The report, prepared for transmission developer Anbaric, found that a planned transmission approach “is likely to result in lower costs in both the near and longer term, by lowering risks and costs of onshore upgrades and increasing competition for both offshore transmission and generation.”
The current approach of relying on individual generator lead lines would require extensive on-shore grid upgrades at an estimated cost that is triple expected for on-shore upgrades in a planned approach, costing ratepayers an estimated additional $1.1 billion overall. By relying on landing points closer to population centers and at robust onshore grid locations, a planned system reduces grid congestion and the need for expensive, disruptive onshore transmission projects that could hinder the growth of offshore wind.
Planning and procuring transmission separately from generation increases competition and can reduce transmission costs 20%-30%, according to studies of U.K. offshore transmission and U.S. onshore transmission trends.
Planned transmission can level the playing field between generators, increase competition and reduce costs for offshore wind, a finding that reflects the experience in Europe.
Photo: The first page of Brattle Group’s Offshore Transmission in New England: The Benefits of a Better-Planned Grid report