Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Renewables Grid Giga-boost: Google and Friends Commit to Fund Undersea Wind Power

Not just offshore, mind you, but offshore and under water.  We're talking high voltage transmission lines in the deep blue sea off the USA's east coast mid section. If you're thinking this is another green jobs initiative from the current administration, you're wrong. It's the private sector doing what it does best: seeing a problem, doing some analysis, realizing it's an opportunity, and putting some skin in the game despite known and quantified risks.

Covered in all the major news outlets today, including the WSJ, this is great clean tech news as well as energy security news. Here's why:

  • It's a win for renewables as it'll now be much easier and cheaper (and therefore, much less risky) to deploy big offshore wind turbines 
  • It's a win for energy security as one of the most congested parts of the national grid will have more pathways and options for routing electricity, especially in the NY/NJ region
  • This should help the perpetually stalled Cape Wind project get out of the blocks. If folks down south can pull off a wind infrastructure project of this magnitude, how come forward looking, business minded, PhD-educated, renewables friendly northerners have been arguing about this modest first step for 10+ years with nothing to show for it? Wind energy in Massachusetts is in danger of being OBE - overcome by current events

For me, the second point on energy security is also a boost for Smart Grid security. Absent hostile submarines with cable cutter-enabled frog men, this transmission addition will give grid operators more room to breath, even as it makes it more likely they'll be figuring out how to best manage gigawatts of new intermittent power over the next several years. We'll be relying on more technology to handle this challenge of course - here's to ensuring it's developed and deployed with security in mind: up front, built in, and by design.

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