This assumes at least 100GW of offshore wind capacity is installed by 2050 – a level of expansion beyond ongoing procurements – according to report by consulting firm the Brattle Group report, which was commissioned by The American Clean Power Association (ACP).
Specifically, pro-active transmission planning could result in 60–70% fewer shore crossings and necessary onshore transmission upgrades for those crossings, according to the report, The benefit and urgency of planned offshore transmission.
The report additionally found that collaborative transmission planning for offshore wind could reduce marine transmission cable installations on the ocean floor by 50%, or around 3,219 km.
To achieve these savings, states must coordinate. They must take advantage of available federal support and funding. And they must standardise offshore transmission technologies, according to the Brattle Group.
Improvements to the existing planning processes for onshore and offshore transmission facilities are needed to address a broad range of needs beyond the offshore wind sector, it stated.
To achieve those savings, planning would have to start now, and involve the regional transmission operators, the report stressed. Even modest delays in developing and implementing actionable plans for both near- and long-term transmission investments substantially cuts the benefits of such planning, according to the study.
“There is no time to lose if we want to achieve any of these benefits,” said Johannes Pfeifenberger, study lead author at the Brattle Group. “It requires that we start now to develop least-regrets transmission plans that can support states’ near-term offshore wind goals while simultaneously creating attractive transmission solutions to meet our long-term clean energy needs.”
He added: “Doing so will require unprecedented close coordination between states, federal agencies, and regional grid operators, along with significant improvements to the generation interconnection and grid planning processes used today.”
The Biden administration has targets of 30GW of offshore wind by 2030 and 110GW by 2050. But state-specific studies of clean energy and decarbonisation show that close to 200GW of offshore wind may be required by 2050, the Brattle report cautioned.