As the global population continues to expand, demands for energy have skyrocketed. With Earth’s limited supplies of fossil fuels, however, it is apparent that new forms of renewable energy must be found and developed in order to meet these demands.
Wind energy is one such form of renewable energy. As with other, similar energy sources, wind power can be unpredictable at times. Problems harnessing the wind can occur when wind speeds are low and power output drops to zero. If wind farms continue to emerge throughout the United States, fluctuations in output could affect efficiency, as well as costs, in the future of alternative energy.
One solution to this drawback of wind energy is to connect many wind farms together with a transmission line—similar to making an electric grid consisting of wind turbines. To test the effectiveness of this theory, researchers from the Center for Carbon-free Power Integration at the University of Delaware simulated connecting offshore wind farms along the Eastern Seaboard with a high-voltage undersea transmission line. Results indicated that connecting the wind farms stabilized their overall output and the power supply never dropped to zero.
Although plans exist for these farms, there is no agreement yet to build an undersea transmission line. Estimated costs of building such a line could be well over a billion dollars. Despite the expense, “the whole idea is that it would pay off over time,” said Dr. Willett Kempton from the Center for Carbon-free Power Integration.