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Study shows PJM can handle 35 GW of US offshore wind

A picture from Cathie Associates visit to the US’ first commercial offshore wind farm; Block Island.

Feb 23 (Renewables Now) - With some transmission line upgrades, the PJM Interconnection grid in the US can manage up to 35 GW of offshore wind capacity, shows a study by the University of Delaware and Princeton University.

This is without the needs for additional storage capacity, the researchers note. In the future, the PJM grid could even handle up to 70 GW, as the operator would be able to better predict and harness more wind energy with advances in wind forecasting.

With 70 GW of offshore wind capacity in use, replacing fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas, there can be an up to 50% reduction in carbon and sulfur dioxide (CO2 and SO2) emissions, and up to a 40% fall in nitrogen oxides emissions, the study results show. In addition, the cost of electricity is expected to go down, except for the month of July when the use of air conditioning rises.

PJM Interconnection supplies power to over 60 million people in 14 US states. “We simulated the entire PJM grid, with each power plant and each wind farm in it, old and new, every five minutes. As far as we know, this is the first model that does this,” explains Cristina Archer, associate professor at the University of Delaware. This is the first-of-its-kind simulation.

Offshore wind forecasts based on real wind farm data from onshore systems have been generated by the University of Delaware’s Harker Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Laboratory, and these were then incorporated at Princeton into their model of the PJM grid. The researchers studies five build-out levels, between 7 GW and 70 GW of installed capacity.

Work on the project started five years ago. It has been supported by the US Department of Energy (DOE).

With the completion of the 30-MW Block Island facility, the US now ranks 11th globally in terms of offshore wind capacity. In Europe, meanwhile, there are over 12 GW.

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Browse all articles from Tsvetomira Tsanova

Tsvet has been following the development of the global renewable energy industry for seven years now. She's got a soft spot for emerging markets.

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