‘Growing chorus’ endorses multi-user transmission system

‘Growing chorus’ endorses multi-user transmission system

Published in Riviera 07 May 2020 by David Foxwell

US transmission system developer Anbaric says it has "the wind at its back" for the development of an open-access transmission system for offshore wind on the east coast of the US that would be developed independent of generation

The company said a growing number of industry leaders and environmental groups are supporting its call for a separate bid for transmission in Massachusetts’ offshore wind procurement policy. Many of the issues around transmission system development on the US east coast were discussed here by OWJ.

Anbaric says proposals such as its Southern New England Ocean Grid have many potential advantages
Anbaric says proposals such as its Southern New England Ocean Grid have many potential advantages

“Around 14 GW of capacity could be tapped off the southeastern coast of New England lease areas, but there’s an urgent policy debate happening now about how to efficiently maximise our offshore wind potential,” said Anbaric, which recently proposed a multi-user transmission system from offshore windfarms to shore – an OceanGrid as it has dubbed it – that would be a catalyst for scaling offshore wind.

“Open-access transmission that delivers energy from more than one windfarm is critical infrastructure to build a new era of renewable energy as we phase out our dependence on fossil-fuel power.

RFPs in the Commonwealth to date have bundled transmission with generation, creating projects with single generator leads to shore. However, following the direction of the state legislature, the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) has been exploring the implications of creating separate RFPs for transmission for future procurements. The topic was the subject of a technical conference in March.

After the conference DOER posed a second set of question to which developers and industry experts responded with written statements that expressed strong support for separating transmission from generation. Written responses from industry leaders add up to an endorsement for an independent transmissions system such as OceanGrid, Anbaric claims.

Avangrid Networks said, “Separation of transmission from generation is the standard in any onshore transmission planning worldwide… The long-term planning with the separation of the transmission due to its specific scope, required skills and interests, is the sustainable approach for offshore transmission planning.”

Shell New Energies said, it “encourages the Commonwealth to establish well-planned, backbone transmission infrastructure.” Ultimately, it said, it will serve “to reduce the overall capital costs of the implementation of the Commonwealth’s offshore wind mandate.”

Comments from environmental groups including the Conservation Law Foundation, Acadia Center, Environmental League of Massachusetts, and National Wildlife Federation, also supported the concept. “Separating transmission from generation procurement, while complex, has the potential to deliver optimal outcomes for consumers and the environment,” they said.

Transmission Investment, which has experience in the UK market, said “The main benefits of independent offshore wind transmission are in the delivery of a co-ordinated offshore transmission system design that can do more than simply interconnect one offshore wind generator to the onshore grid.”

Tufts University’s power systems and power research group warned that “the size and speed of offshore wind installations could overwhelm and congest the land-based coastal grid, damaging the industry’s reputation and short-changing growth potential.”

The Responsible Offshore Development Alliance, an organisation focused on impacts to the fishing industry from offshore wind, also backed a separate solicitation which, it said, would result in greatly reduced impacts to fisheries.

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