DoE To Fund Major Offshore Wind Power Grid Interconnection Study

ABB, AWS Truepower, Duke Energy, NREL, University of Pittsburgh create provisional partnership to perform studies to identify sites for high offshore wind energy potential and grid interconnection along all U.S. coastal regions.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced that it is providing funding for a team of leading energy organizations to perform a broad study that will assess the most promising sites for high offshore wind farm production along all of the U.S. coastal regions. The ABB-led team will investigate important technical and economic questions about the integration of offshore wind energy through a range of transmission technologies.

This DOE study – the "National Offshore Wind Energy Grid Interconnection Study" – will be led by experts from five influential energy, manufacturing, consulting, utility and research organizations: ABB, AWS Truepower, Duke Energy, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and the University of Pittsburgh.

This team will determine the expected staging of offshore wind development in each of the coastal regions, develop expected wind turbines generation production profiles, assess the applicability of integration study methods to offshore wind farm production, assess a variety of offshore wind collection and delivery technologies, and consider regulatory issues that may influence the selection of technologies or the implementation of systems.

Additionally, the study will provide the technical and economic viability data necessary to produce a roadmap to the DOE’s "20 Percent Wind Energy by 2030" wind goals for the U.S. This Offshore Wind initiative will help guide the national effort to achieve a 54 gigawatts (GW) of deployed offshore wind generating capacity by 2030.

Electric power generated by wind resources has become an increasingly important part of the energy production portfolio of the U.S. The majority of current wind production, however, is land-based in spite of significant accessible wind resources offshore, as well as significant technological developments for offshore wind production in recent years.

"We appreciate this support and funding from the Department of Energy. We believe that we have put together a strong team and look forward to working with our partners on this study," said John Daniel, Senior Principal Consultant, ABB, and the Principal Investigator and overall coordinator of the project. "We hope we will be able to help the Department of Energy provide valuable information for the utilities, developers, legislators and regulators on the path forward to including offshore wind as part of the energy portfolio of the U.S."

The DOE Offshore Wind Initiative invests $43 million in 41 projects across 20 states over the next five years to speed technical innovations, lower costs, and shorten the timeline for deploying offshore wind energy systems. The projects will advance wind turbine design tools and hardware, improve information about U.S. offshore wind resources, and accelerate the deployment of offshore wind by reducing market barriers such as supply chain development, transmission and infrastructure.

In addition to John Daniel, the team leadership for this project will be provided by Ken Pennock (AWS Truepower), Spencer Hanes (Duke Energy), Lynn Coles (NREL) and Gregory Reed (University of Pittsburgh).

ABB will oversee the project, and its main technical contribution will be to assess the collection and delivery technologies, including collector system alternatives, delivery system alternatives, marine substation design and hardware and undersea cabling and installation technologies. ABB, with its North American headquarters in Cary, N.C., has broad expertise in all aspects of power system engineering including wind integration, high voltage direct current (HVDC) design and application, Flexible AC transmission systems (FACTS) design and deployment, substation design and high voltage terrestrial and undersea cables. ABB already supplies these transmission technologies for the world’s largest offshore wind farms, and recently announced a $1 billion offshore wind power order for its HVDC Light transmission link to connect the North Sea wind farms to Germany’s power grid. To increase its presence in the U.S., ABB is constructing a new plant for high voltage cables in Huntersville, N.C., scheduled to open in late 2012.

AWS Truepower will focus on the initial phases of the Offshore Wind Grid Integration study. The AWS Truepower contribution shall include formulation of offshore wind development staging, offshore wind generation production profile simulation, and an analysis of wind generation ramp frequencies between the offshore and onshore wind projects. AWS Truepower provides the most accurate, reliable, and innovative renewable energy project development and operations solutions available today. Energy developers, investors, utilities, system operators, and governments rely on the company’s 30 years of experience, proven science, and technology to reduce uncertainty, mitigate risk, and maximize return on their investments. Headquartered in New York, AWS Truepower has offices in North America, Europe and Asia. Learn more about the company online at

Duke Energy Business Services will assist ABB by providing transmission consulting services and regulatory policy support to this national integration study. Duke Energy will collaborate with its research partners to stage national offshore wind modelling in a way that proactively attempts to address potential use-conflicts with military, commercial and recreational fishing, environmental and other important interests.

Duke Energy is a leading commercial power and transmission owner with experience that in total spans a century of experience in this sector. Duke Energy’s Commercial Transmission business is developing transmission infrastructure projects throughout the country to improve reliability, reduce congestion and enable renewable energy integration.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is the nation’s primary laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development (R&D). Backed by 34 years of achievement, NREL leads the way in helping meet the growing demand for clean energy. NREL’s Transmission and Grid Integration Group collaborates with utility industry partners and provides data, analysis, and techniques to increase utility understanding of integration issues and confidence in the reliability of emerging renewable energy applications. Offshore wind energy development and grid integration represents a new, huge, and exciting prospect for wind energy’s contribution to the nation’s growing renewable energy portfolio.

The University of Pittsburgh will focus on examining traditional and advanced electric power delivery options. To access the most effective integration of offshore wind into onshore networks, Pitt researchers will look at state-of-the-art power electronics-based transmission technologies, integrating AC and DC power converters, and undersea cable systems. Representing Pitt in this research is Gregory Reed, professor of electric power engineering, associate director of the University’s Center for Energy, and director of the Power and Energy Initiative in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. The project team is expected to provide its final report and recommendations to the Department of Energy in September 2013.