First offshore wind farm goes offline: An industry warning?

Heather Richards and Arianna Skibell, E&E News reporters

Published: Friday, October 30, 2020

In the new year, the first offshore wind farm in the United States will shut off its turbines, and its customers on nearby Block Island in Rhode Island will revert to diesel generation.

The rocky saeabed around Block Island has been worn away by tides and storms, sometimes exposing high-voltage cables in a popular swimming location that developers failed to bury deep enough when the facility was brought online in 2016. To splice in newly buried cables, the wind farm will go offline for a brief period this spring.

At $30 million for one leg of the fix and an undisclosed amount for the other, it’s a costly problem to crop up for the nation’s first offshore wind farm, and it’s not totally isolated.

High-voltage lines that will be buried at sea to carry power from the burgeoning offshore wind sector and inject it into the onshore grid represent the most complicated, and as yet uncertain, aspect of an industry poised to boom, experts say. From grid congestion to technical troubles, the offshore wind’s transmission challenge is the focus of growing attention as the industry advances.

“We cannot afford to develop the offshore grid in piecemeal,” Judy Chang, the undersecretary of energy for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, said at a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission conference held on offshore’s transmission challenges Tuesday.

Block Island represents just 30 megawatts of power, a pilot project that preceded what could be a wind boom driven by state commitments to buy offshore wind and decarbonize power systems.

Northeastern states that have made offshore wind procurements include Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia, with a total of 6,460 MW selected and a goal of 28,530 MW.

Additionally, New York, New Jersey and Virginia are in the process of procuring another 7,540 MW cumulatively.

“We need a solid plan to ensure our offshore and onshore can work together to support that vision,” Chang said.

But the overarching federal and state planning as voiced by Chang has been cautioned by others who are worried about constraining a nimble industry with regulations.

Others like WIRES Executive Director Larry Gasteiger say that rules and planning processes already exist that can accommodate the addition of offshore wind.

“The one outcome to avoid is any action, no matter how well-intentioned, that has the consequence of slowing down the development and integration of offshore wind resources,” he said at the FERC conference.

‘A bit of a disconnect’

The current coastal power and transmission system spreading densely in populated areas and sparsely across rural environs was not built with a large offshore wind industry in mind.

Regions of the coastline in the Northeast are supported with infrastructure to suit the population, not a fleet of offshore wind farms. A limited number of retired coastal power plants provide injection points for large power sources, but that’s not a comprehensive solution to avoid overloading and congesting the onshore grid system, said Brandon Burke, policy director for the Business Network for Offshore Wind.

“Right now, we have about 10 gigawatts of offshore wind project with off-take from state government, and we are already sitting and looking at this and saying, ‘How are we going to integrate this power into the onshore grid?'” he said.

Please continue reading at:

https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2020/10/30/first-u-s-offshore-wind-...

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Comment by Art Brigades on November 17, 2020 at 10:22am

"Ørsted A/S — the Danish power company that acquired Block Island when it bought Deepwater Wind in 2018 — is bearing the cost of reburying the Block Island cable connecting its turbines to the island grid.

Spokesperson Lauren Burm declined to disclose the cost of the full project."

Orsted will pay for it from petty cash.  

Consider that the New England average wholesale electricity price over the last few years has been about 3 cents, and that Block Island has a guaranteed 20 year contract rate of 28 cents...with escalators of course. Then there are the tax credits, capacity payments, RECs, etc. The more recent New England bidders in offshore wind RFPs have been closer to 6 cents. 

Comment by Willem Post on October 31, 2020 at 3:57pm

“How are we going to integrate this variable, intermittent, grid disturbing electricity into the existing NE grid”

That is a good question.

A major, high-capacity, high-voltage, truck line needs to be built on shore.

It should be buried to reduce visibility 

That trunk line would have other high voltage lines that would connect to various points on the NE grid, which likely would require reinforcements.

All the wind systems would feed their electricity into the trunk line.

That trunk line would have batteries to absorb the variations of wind electricity and to provide a steady electricity supply to the NE grid. 
Any electricity passing through the batteries would have a loss of 15-20 percent, on a high voltage to high voltage basis.

All that should be provided and paid for by the wind turbine owners, who are the disturbers.

The alternative would be to have the existing gas-fired, gas turbine plants adjust their outputs to counteract the variations of wind electricity.
That would cause these plants to 1) operate inefficiently, higher Btu/kWh, higher CO2/kWh, 2) have lesser outputs than before, and 3) have greater wear and tear, all of which would negatively impact their earnings.

Who would pay for that?

The best way would be to charge the owners of the wind turbines an integration charge.

After all, they should not be allowed to just dump their electricity into the grid for free!!

Hannah Pingree on the Maine expedited wind law

Hannah Pingree - Director of Maine's Office of Innovation and the Future

"Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine."

https://pinetreewatch.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/

 

Maine as Third World Country:

CMP Transmission Rate Skyrockets 19.6% Due to Wind Power

 

Click here to read how the Maine ratepayer has been sold down the river by the Angus King cabal.

Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT

******** IF LINKS BELOW DON'T WORK, GOOGLE THEM*********

(excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/From Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-swept-task-force-set-the-rules/From Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.” https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/flaws-in-bill-like-skating-with-dull-skates/

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