Written by R.E. Lord

Wind Energy Transmission

Google will put up a large chunk of the funding to develop a major wind-energy project in the Mid-Atlantic region.

The company announced this week that it would fund some 37 percent of the “Atlantic Wind Connection” (AWC), a 350-mile wind-power infrastructure complex planned for the Atlantic coast from New Jersey to Virginia.

The underwater power “backbone” will connect 6,000MW of offshore wind turbines, “equivalent to 60 percent of the wind energy that was installed in the entire country last year and enough to serve approximately 1.9 million households,” according to Google’s Green Business Operations Director Rick Needham, who announced the deal on the company’s official blog.

“The AWC backbone will be built around offshore power hubs that will collect the power from multiple offshore wind farms and deliver it efficiently via sub-sea cables to the strongest, highest capacity parts of the land-based transmission system,” Needham wrote. “This system will act as a superhighway for clean energy.”

The electrical grid that serves the area is overstretched, and Google and AWC project leader, Maryland-based Trans-Elect Development Company, see the project as a way to relieve the kind of congestion that contributed to a 2003 blackout in the region. The project is also expected to create jobs and help jump-start an American wind-power industry.

 “This new American super grid off the Mid-Atlantic coast will unlock an important untapped resource, creating the foundation for a new industry and jobs for thousands of American workers,” said Trans-Elect CEO Bob Mitchell in a statement.

 The Mid-Atlantic region is “ideally suited for offshore wind,” according to Needham, as it has strong off-shore winds and “relatively shallow waters that extend miles out to sea.”

 “These shallow waters make it easier to install turbines 10-15 miles offshore, meaning wind projects can take advantage of stronger winds and are virtually out-of-sight from land,” Needham wrote.