Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Google to invest in wind project

Google is among companies investing in a proposed network of underwater transmission lines off the US East Coast

Google and a handful of other companies are investing in a proposed five billion dollars (£3.16 billion) network of underwater transmission lines that could bring power from future offshore wind farms to customers along the US East Coast.

The project, the Atlantic Wind Connection, would run electrical lines as far as 20 miles offshore from Virginia to New Jersey. The initial phase of the project would be capable of delivering 2,000 megawatts of wind energy - enough to power about 500,000 homes.

Wind turbines are not part of the project. Instead, the companies hope that by saving developers the cost of lining the sea floor with electrical cables able to deliver wind power to shore, they will jump-start the building of offshore wind farms along the coast.

The lack of transmission capability has been a major obstacle to wind energy development in the United States.

"Instead of multiple piecemeal connections, this will serve as a superhighway with on-ramps for wind farms," said Rick Needham, Google's green business operations director.

The US is only beginning to develop projects to tap strong wind currents blowing along the Atlantic Coast. There are currently no wind turbines operating in the waters off the eastern US Cape Wind, offshore of Massachusetts was granted a lease earlier this month after a decade-long battle. But construction will take two years once it gets under way.

Besides Google, investment firm Good Energies, Japanese industrial conglomerate Marubeni and Maryland transmission company Trans-Elect are involved in the project.

Mr Needham said the combined initial investment in the project ran in the tens of millions of dollars.

Trans-Elect CEO Robert L Mitchell said the first phase is expected to cost 1.8 billion dollars (£1.14 billion) and run 150 miles in federal waters from New Jersey to Delaware. That phase, he said, will be complete by early 2016.

Google and Good Energies will each own 37.5% of the project and Google said it plans to find other investors. Marubeni will own 15 percent. A group led by Trans-Elect will own the remaining 10 percent, Mitchell said.

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