Since 2019 wind has become the largest source of renewable energy in the US. In 2020 wind produced 8.4 % of all the electric energy. There is now more than 120 GW nameplate capacity of wind. Only 0.042 GW (42 MW) nameplate capacity is offshore wind. With an estimated cost at least twice as high as land-based wind and the costs of connecting to the onshore electric grid, at a first glance it would not seem that offshore wind could ever become of any significance.
However, at a closer look, there are strong reasons to believe offshore wind will become substantial with over 10 GW in operation already by 2030.
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There is a slogan for electric transmission that it is not about how much power you generate. It is about how much you deliver. There is a lot of truth to that. It was the innovations of electric transmission well over 100 years ago that enabled the modern electric system by bringing remote generation to the load.
Today a robust transmission grid is a prerequisite to economically and reliably balance generation and load. With more variable generation resources on the system, wind and solar, transmission is again the enabler. However, regardless how strong the rational for strengthening the transmission grid may be, the opposition against building new transmission can be equally strong or stronger. At few places it is more evident than in Germany.
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The German Energiewende is the largest undertaking in the world to transition to renewable energy. Rightfully it is getting a lot of attention. There already many lessons to be learnt of what to do and also some of what not to do.
Smaller in magnitude but also well worth paying attention to are two American versions of Energiewende. One is a state, Hawaii, and the other is a city, Fort Collins, Colorado.
Operating electric grids with more intermittent renewable energy sources, wind and solar, do not come without challenges. As discussed in my previous blog, The Importance of Strong and Nice Neighbors, the experiences from Denmark and Germany illustrates the value of strong electric ties with neighboring systems.