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Grid Integration of Offshore Wind

Photograph of a wind turbine in the ocean.

Located about 10 kilometers off the coast of Arklow, Ireland, the Arklow Bank offshore wind park consists of seven GE Wind 3.6-MW wind turbines.

Much can be learned from the existing land-based integration research for handling the variability and uncertainty of the wind resource.

Integration and Transmission

One comprehensive grid integration study is the Eastern Wind Integration and Transmission Study (EWITS), in which offshore wind scenarios were analyzed. Nearly 80 GW of offshore wind was studied in the highest penetration scenario.

Specific offshore grid distribution and transmission solutions were identified, including cost estimates. With the Atlantic coast likely to lead the way in offshore wind power deployment, EWITS is a benchmark for the identification and comparison of necessary grid expansion, interconnect options and technologies and needs, and delivery system concepts.

Infrastructure

Deployment of offshore wind in the United States depends on the available infrastructure. The offshore grid will have unique characteristics that warrant more in-depth studies and modeling, including grid-fault and stability analysis. Another factor in grid integration of offshore wind energy is the availability of suitable transmission injection points. As wind farms grow in size and move farther from shore, the behavior and modeling of offshore electrical transmission systems should be analyzed with respect to grid-system reliability, grid losses, and grid-architecture options.

Grid Interconnection and the Resource Zone Concept

An understanding of the regional impacts that offshore wind will have on the existing onshore grid, and on the evolving offshore grid, is essential for smooth grid integration. Foreknowledge of grid integration issues, as well as transmission system planning and expansion issues, in terms of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and regulatory procedural rules, cost, timing and volume, will lead to more effective interconnection and integration.

Building accessible transmission to serve future offshore wind could help ease the "chicken and egg" quandary of which comes first, transmission or generation. To manage offshore grid interconnection, the renewable energy resource zone concept of planning suggests that assessments be made for wind plant connections and the installation of needed transmission during planning and construction of wind plants.