The solution to offshore wind energy obstacles lies in pooling all the power into one common electricity grid, according to researchers at the University of Delaware and Stony Brook University.
"We hypothesize that wind power output could be stabilized if wind generators were located in a meteorologically designed configuration and electrically connected," according to the report "Electric power from offshore wind via synoptic-scale interconnection."
Using hard data from 11 meteorological stations, the group tracked hourly how much wind blew over the last five years across a 2,500-kilometer area of the U.S. East Coast, and where it was consistently the strongest offshore. The scientists then created a theoretical wind grid based on the real-world wind behavior. It showed that had a wind grid existed over the last five years it would have neither reached full power nor reached an all-time low, but provided a steady source of electricity.
Despite seasonal shifts up and down in output from each individual offshore wind farm, the connected system allowed for a manageable stable power source, according to the results of the study.
The group concurred with the assertions that harnessing just two-thirds of the offshore wind power that potentially exists off the U.S. northeast coast could provide household electricity from Massachusetts to North Carolina, as well as electricity for lightweight vehicle fuel and building heat for those areas. But the group also agreed that offshore wind is challenging because of wind's naturally intermittent nature, and the expense of building and managing utility-scale storage for an intermittent energy source.
The group studied transmission versus utility-scale storage, and found that transmission between farms along a common grid was far more economical despite an initial cost layout to connect the Atlantic offshore wind farms with 3-gigawatt HVDC submarine cables .… Read more