The growth and eventual dominance of green energy systems in the grid is inevitable. No matter the rationalization, solar, wind, wave, and thermal energy generation will continue to grow, develop, and displace legacy fossil-fuel sources. The inevitable aspect of most alternate-energy systems lies in the fact that solid-state solutions developed to address an application space eventually dominate it.
Wind power is an excellent example of a solid-state power generation solution, as it takes the motion of the wind and converts it into energy without an intermediate conversion stage. There is no fuel burned, no fluids (beyond cooling and lubrication), and no exhaust products. Wind power is also a major part of the solution to mitigate global warming, as it can replace a large percentage of the energy generated by legacy systems. Offshore wind is a major aspect of this market, as it both takes advantage of local wind conditions without taking up real estate.
However, there are real concerns, as improper development and deployment can (and is) delaying adoption. Proper due diligence to understand all aspects of a wind power deployment, and coordination between regional administrations, goes far to ensure any offshore wind-farm deployments achieve the desired goals. This can be made even more effective if the municipalities involved implement long-term grid planning on and offshore, to make the marketplace accessible and understandable to the players involved.
New York, the Windy City?
One administration taking positive steps to understand the issues so they may better coordinate their own future is New York. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Green New Deal Agenda calls for 9GW of offshore wind by 2035, and for 70 percent of NY’s electricity to come from renewable energy by 2030. The New York Power Authority (NYPA) recently shared what they learned from a study of European offshore wind transmission models (Figure 1).
The results of the report will help guide the state as it deploys its offshore wind assets. This action is commendable, as it removes speculation, fear, supposition, and ideology from the discovery process. Real facts are always best, and facts you discover for yourself through investigation are as real as you can get. By examining the situation first-hand, NY has created a snapshot of offshore wind that can also be used by others.
A big takeaway from the report is the fact that European nations have already installed 18GW of offshore wind capacity and are expected to generate 70GW of power by 2028 (Figure 2). Another key point from the report is that visible, long-term grid planning on- and offshore, removes barriers to entry, improves coordination, and lowers costs. Unclear, complex, and lengthy regulatory activity hinders both participation and development.
Cooperation and Coordination are Key
One aspect of Europe that doesn’t exist in the U.S. is the need for cross-border coordination. In Europe, the multinational aspect of the situation demands that the countries involved work closely with one another to ensure their shared grid functions in an optimal manner. Proper planning ensures the efficient leveraging of assets in a planned transmission infrastructure, ensure resource flexibility, and gain economies of scale.
However, the state-oriented aspect of local government does require a similar level of coordination (Figure 3). New York is part of a larger interdependency that includes all their local neighbors, and Canada. A truly integrated policy should also include expected future cooperation and mutual development. This is also applicable to other states, as many regions rely on interstate grid-level coordination already.
Winds of Change
Offshore wind will continue to grow in the amount of power generated and its importance to the grid. Piecemeal adoption will not properly serve the needs of society or business, so active planning and coordination are key to a successful offshore wind deployment strategy. Integrating the best technology with the best planning and oversight will ensure that future wind deployments and the ongoing migration to green energy will continue in the best possible manner.