Seth Parker is Vice President and Principal at Levitan & Associates, Inc. (LAI) an energy management consulting firm in Boston that conducts renewable and conventional energy procurements throughout the U.S. Parker testified before the Rhode Island PUC on the Block Island Wind Farm and led LAI’s offshore wind procurement design and evaluation efforts for the Maryland PSC.
Alex Mattfolk is an executive consultant at LAI. He evaluates the impact of resource additions and retirements on competitive power markets, advises RTOs and the U.S. DOE on gas/electric interdependencies, and has provided technical support services to a leading offshore wind developer.
Offshore wind development is accelerating along the coastlines of New England, New York, and the mid-Atlantic. It is being spurred by a growing demand for renewable energy, siting and transmission challenges of onshore wind, and the lure of job creation.
The commercial and operational success of large offshore wind projects in Europe pave the way for domestic development. Roughly eight gigawatts are on the drawing boards, with more potential on the horizon.
As the coastal states harden their respective carbon reduction goals through ambitious offshore wind targets, it is time for regulators and policy-makers to consider the range of transmission strategies.
The first wave of offshore wind has relied on export cables from generator to shore, a straightforward design that is the equivalent of onshore generator leads. Competing options are backbone transmission (BT) and expandable transmission (XT) designs.
BT options demonstrated in Europe interconnect multiple offshore wind projects at multiple grid points and offer the possibility of reducing costs through scale economies. BT using HVDC technology would be more expensive than HVAC but would have an additional advantage of controlling deliveries to those grid points. XT would interconnect multiple projects to a single grid point.