Plans for a huge offshore wind grid off New England – connecting up to 16GW of projects and able to direct renewable power to key centres like Boston – have been submitted by transmission specialist Anbaric.
Anbaric’s Southern New England OceanGrid would operate independently of wind farm developers as an ‘open access’ system that connects projects in federal lease areas and routes power directly into Boston, Rhode Island, southern Massachusetts and Connecticut.
Anbaric claimed the 20-year phased project “provides the infrastructure for a clean energy resource that will replace fossil fuels as the foundation of New England's electric system”, and will minimise disruption onshore, and to other ocean users such as fishing fleets, because fewer physical connections are needed.
CEO Edward Krapels said: “As offshore wind's potential gains momentum, it's time to think big and plan rationally. It becomes clearer every day that transmission must lead the way towards greater scale, reliability and efficiency, just as it has in Europe.”
With 16GW of potential capacity envisaged, the Southern New England OceanGrid is the most ambitious attempt yet to plan the transmission infrastructure needed for a future massive role of offshore wind in the US power mix.
Anbaric – which has already lodged plans for a grid off New York and New Jersey – argues the linked approach makes more sense than having individual projects build their own connections. It also reduces the number of environmental impacts onshore and the potential disruption to competing interests such as fishing – which has emerged as a vocal critic of the US offshore wind sector.
“Individual wind farm developers have gotten the industry off to a good start, but we now need a networked grid to minimise conflict and create a truly reliable offshore transmission system that will substantially de-risk wind projects,” said Krapels.
The Anbaric CEO previously admitted in an interview with Recharge there was no guarantee wind developers would support the offshore grid approach, rather than retaining control over their own project’s evacuation arrangements.
But he argued regional authorities should take the view that separating ownership of generation and transmission would be better for the smooth regional growth of offshore wind.
Anbaric submitted its plans to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) this week.