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Wind Industry Profile of

The Atlantic Wind Connection: Backbone Transmission Project

America needs an offshore wind energy industry off the Mid-Atlantic states. This emerging industry will create thousands of jobs and improve consumer access to clean energy sources.

The Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC) backbone transmission project is an essential foundation to this new industry. Designed to accelerate offshore wind development, the project is led by well-established independent transmission company Trans-Elect and sponsored by Google, Bregal Energy, Marubeni Corporation and Elia as sponsors.

About AWC’s backbone transmission project

The Mid-Atlantic region offers more than 60,000 MW of offshore wind potential in the relatively shallow waters of the outer continental shelf. These shallow waters, which extend miles out to sea, allow for the development of large, distant wind farms, mitigating visibility issues and allowing for greater energy capture from stronger winds. With few other renewable energy options ideally suited for the Atlantic coast, this transmission project will help states meet their renewable energy goals and standards by enabling the local offshore wind industry to deploy thousands of megawatts of clean, cost-effective energy.

Without a transmission backbone, offshore wind developers would be forced to bring energy to land via radial lines that can make balancing the region’s existing grid more difficult. In addition, a single offshore backbone with a limited number of landfall points will minimize the environmental impacts of building multiple individual radial lines to shore. The AWC project not only reduces the need to build many lower-capacity transmission lines, but relieves grid congestion in one of two National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors which were deemed to have significant transmission network congestion and need speedy creation of transmission capacity.

When complete, the AWC backbone will be able to connect up to 7,000 MW of offshore wind, enough power to serve approximately 1.9 million households. The system is also scalable and can be expanded to accommodate additional offshore wind energy as the industry further develops. The use of High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) technology allows for easier integration and control of multiple wind farms while avoiding the electrical losses associated with more typical High Voltage Alternating Current (HVAC) lines. With this strong backbone in place, larger and more energy efficient wind farms can connect to offshore power hubs further out to sea. These power hubs will in turn be connected via sub-sea cables to the strongest, highest capacity parts of the land-based transmission system.

In addition to enabling the production of thousands of megawatts of clean power, the AWC backbone will help spur the creation of local jobs. Development of wind energy off the Atlantic coast could create between 133,000 and 212,000 U.S. jobs according to Oceana, an ocean-conservation group. The U.S. Department of Energy also estimates that more than 43,000 permanent operations and maintenance jobs would be created if 54,000 MW of offshore wind turbines were installed by 2030. For comparison, the offshore wind industry in Europe is expected to create 215,000 new jobs by 2030.


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