US Offshore Wind Potential Relies On Intelligent Grid Integration
Flip a switch and the lights come on. That’s what Americans expect, thanks to an electricity grid that feeds energy from renewable and traditional sources into millions of homes and businesses.
The wind turbines starting to go up in waters off the nation’s shores have the potential to provide abundant clean energy to heavily populated coastal cities and the larger national grid. But first, the power they generate must be relayed across many miles of ocean waters and coastline, using transmission systems that were not designed to handle large amounts of power being transmitted from offshore.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has launched plans to develop the technologies and strategies needed to integrate the coming wave of offshore wind installations into the grid. The laboratory’s success with integration — from its world-renowned work on utility-scale renewable energy systems to its comprehensive vision for offshore wind development and collaboration with industry partners — is steering efforts to deliver power efficiently and affordably from offshore plants.
“Experience integrating widely distributed, land-based renewable sources in the United States and offshore wind in Europe indicates that coordinating transmission over large regions achieves economies of scale and operational efficiencies, which can deliver considerable cost savings,” said NREL Offshore Wind Grid Integration Lead Melinda Marquis. “Challenges include cost allocation and technical demands posed by offshore locations.”
Building on the earlier DOE National Offshore Wind Energy Grid Interconnection Study (NOWEGIS), NREL plans to examine a range of scenarios for integrating offshore wind into the larger grid by assessing economic, reliability, operational, and stability factors. Researchers are looking at the interplay among transmission configurations and technologies, grid integration requirements, energy storage options, and other renewable energy sources.
Outcomes of this research will give government and industry decision-makers the validated scientific data and tools needed to establish resilient and market-competitive offshore wind power plants that deliver the greatest possible benefits to the power grid, industry stakeholders, ratepayers, and the environment.
Integrated Planning: Collaborations To Maximize Offshore Development Benefits
NREL’s research portfolio takes an integrated, whole-system approach to maximize the performance, efficiency, and impact of renewable energy, from single components to power plants and regional power grids. By quantifying what offshore wind plants can contribute to a larger regional or national network of energy solutions, researchers can help stakeholders make sure they are setting the right research, investment, and policy priorities.