Google Backs Huge New Jersey Wind Project

Add the Jersey Shore  to Google’s renewable energy portfolio.  The Internet giant announced a plan that if successful, will stretch 350 miles and could provide power for up to 1.9 million homes within ten years.

In addition to Google, Good Energies, a private equity firm, as well as Japan’s Marubeni and Trans-Elect Development will provide tens of millions of dollars in funding to boost the project.  Christened the Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC), the project could cost up to $5 to $6 billion dollars when completed.

The project will stretch from Northern New Jersey along the Atlantic’s continental shelf, and continue as far south as the Hampton Roads region of Virginia.  Google claims that the AWC has a capacity of 6000 megawatts, and will become the nation’s largest “superhighway” for clean energy.

Wind energy has huge potential in the United States, but large scale operations like this have had difficulty getting off the drawing board.  Many of us remember T. Boone Pickens preaching the virtue of wind power during the 2008 election cycle, but his idea had one huge hurdle: the transmission of power from the sparsely populated Great Plains states to the densely populated Eastern Seaboard.  The first commercial offshore wind energy development, in Massachusetts’ Nantucket Sound, was only signed last week.  The wind industry’s struggles for the most part lie in its greatest barrier: the creation of an infrastructure than would allow the United States to shift from fossil fuel dependence towards alternative and renewable forms of energy.

The AWC’s location makes sense:  the turbines will be placed 10 to 20 miles offshore in the shallow Atlantic waters, far enough away not to mar the views from iconic Jersey vacation spots like Cape May and Wildwood, and of course, Atlantic City.  Undersea cables will connect turbines to the grid—and if all goes as planned, the equivalent of six nuclear power plants’ worth of electricity by 2020.

Whether the results match the sales pitch remains to be seen.  Wind energy has its doubters and critics, whether they stem from disputes over noise, marred views, the expense, and at times, heavy-handed tactics that dismayed locals.  Nevertheless, if the US is going to become more energy independent, more projects like this will be necessary, and projects like these will have to be near the large population centers that crave electricity the most.

Based in Fresno, California, Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010. He has lived across the U.S., as well as in South Korea, Abu Dhabi and Uruguay. Some of Leon's work can also be found in The Guardian, Sustainable Brands and CleanTechnica. You can follow him on Twitter (@LeonKaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost).

2 responses

  1. I believe in my heart that the ongoing effort to make wind energy an everyday reality is a very wise decision. So much so I’d appreciate being forwarded wind energy stock buying investment information that will change the lives of my family for generations to come.

  2. Energy from wind on-shore is getting pretty close to being on par with traditional means of generation, especially gas fired plants. Although not the only cost difference, one impediment for off-shore has been the cost of transmission. Building a large infrastructure should help amortize that to some degree.

    And it is not true that any renewable energy generation source MUST be near population centers, per se. If the country targets something reasonable, say 25% of capacity to be from many renewable sources, then locating the sites becomes less an issue. It is true, however, that some of the best locations for wind and even for solar, tend to be remote from even moderate population densities. So, transmission costs are a factor.

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