The DoE recently finished up research into what it would take to shift 20% of the electrical load from the Eastern Interconnection, one of the country's two major power grids, to land-based wind from the Midwest, offshore wind from the East, and a variety of other alternative energy scenarios.The report concludes that the 20% figure is feasible, and even 30% might be possible. But the best way of realizing these goals would be to source wind from a large geographic area. Billions of dollars would have to be funneled into tens of thousands of miles of power lines land and sea towers to make the wide sourcing practical.
"The goal of the EWITS (Eastern Wind Integration and Transmission Study) team was not to further any specific agenda or regional vision of the future, but to be as objective as possible while conducting a technical study of future high-penetration wind scenarios," the report says.
The most expensive scenario the report considers, with approximately 22,697 miles of new EHV transmission lines, had an estimated total cost at $93 billion (US$2009). Study authors also say the results pose some interesting policy and technology development questions, including :
• Could the levels of transmission ever be permitted and built, and if so, what is a realistic time frame?
• Could the level of offshore wind energy infrastructure be ramped up fast enough to meet the aggressive offshore wind assumption in the EWITS scenarios?
• Would a different renewable profile or transmission overlay arise from a bottom-up process with more stakeholders involved?
The complete report can be downloaded here: http://www.eenews.net/public/25/13915/features/documents/2010/01/20/document_gw_01.pdf