Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Google To Invest in the Transmission Backbone

This is big news for offshore wind. The New York Times reports that Google has stepped up to invest in a transmission backbone to connect offshore wind power to the congested east coast grid:
Google and Good Energies, an investment firm specializing in renewable energy, have each agreed to take 37.5 percent of the equity portion of the project. They are likely to bring in additional investors, which would reduce their stakes.

If they hold on to their stakes, that would come to an initial investment of about $200 million apiece in the first phase of construction alone, said Robert L. Mitchell, the chief executive of Trans-Elect, the Maryland-based transmission-line company that proposed the venture.
It would be a big project:
The system’s backbone cable, with a capacity of 6,000 megawatts, equal to the output of five large nuclear reactors, would run in shallow trenches on the seabed in federal waters 15 to 20 miles offshore, from northern New Jersey to Norfolk, Va. The notion would be to harvest energy from turbines in an area where the wind is strong but the hulking towers would barely be visible.
Governor Jack Markell and University of Delaware professor Willett Kempton (who is quoted in the article) have both been talking up the value of a transmission backbone, which would smooth out the variability of individual wind farms, making them more efficient.

Hurdles to building offshore wind off the east coast include transmission, financing, permitting and building a supply chain:

So far only one offshore wind project, Bluewater Wind off Delaware, has sought permission to build in federal waters. The company is seeking federal loan guarantees to build 293 to 450 megawatts of capacity, but the timing of construction remains uncertain.

Executives with that project said the Atlantic backbone was an interesting idea, in part because it would foster development of a supply chain for the specialized parts needed for offshore wind.
Google runs one of the most energy intensive technologies on the planet:
A recent report by Gartner, the industry analysts, said the global IT industry generated as much greenhouse gas as the world’s airlines - about 2% of global CO2 emissions. “Data centres are among the most energy-intensive facilities imaginable,” said Evan Mills, a scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. Banks of servers storing billions of web pages require power.
So Google's interest in promoting the development and transmission of abundant clean energy is a matter of corporate interest and corporate citizenship.


Anonymous Evan Mills, LBNL said...

Regarding the closing comment, the quote from me was taken completely out of context by the The London Sunday Times.

Here is the un-spun story about Google's carbon footprint.


4:53 PM, October 12, 2010  

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