(NEW YORK) -- Google announced it will invest in a $5 billion backbone transmission project to establish connection to future offshore wind power turbines along the mid-Atlantic coast in an effort to accelerate the use of wind power as a renewable energy source. The Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC) will consist of 350 miles of undersea cables off the coast of northern New Jersey down to southern Virginia, which will connect 6,000 megawatts of offshore wind, enough to power approximately 1.9 million households.
“Google is very excited about this investment and this project because it does two things. It can dramatically accelerate the deployment of renewable energy and it also offers us attractive returns for our capital,” Rick Needham, the Green Business Operations Director for Google, said.
The AWC will help mid-Atlantic states meet their renewable energy goals and create jobs in the wind energy sector. Oceana, an ocean conservation group, estimates that development of wind energy off the Atlantic coast could create between 133,000 and 212,000 U.S. jobs.
“This is the foundation, this is the spark that’s going to light a new industry, new opportunity, new jobs for the east coast,” Robert Mitchell, CEO of Trans-Elect Development Company, said.
In addition to receiving Google’s pledge to provide funding for the startup of the project, the AWC is led by Trans-Elect, an independent transmission development company, and sponsored by Good Energies and Marubeni Corporation. Construction of the AWC is expected to start in 2013 after the project has acquired proper permits on the federal, state and local levels and has undergone an environmental review. The projected completion date of the first stage, which will span from New Jersey to Delaware, is 2016, and the second phase, which will link the remainder of the mid-Atlantic region down to Virginia, would be completed by 2020.
The AWC will use high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission technology, making this the first attempt to connect multiple points, both on land and on platforms located at sea, along the HVDC line. On-shore wind farms typically use high voltage alternating current (HVAC) technology, which is more expensive, has higher losses and uses more copper than HVDC lines. A typical onshore wind turbine produces 1.5 megawatts. However, offshore wind turbines are larger and easier to transport to sea, giving them the capacity to produce anywhere from 5 to 10 megawatts each.
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