Google said today it's invested in a project called the Atlantic Wind Connection, an effort to create a 350-mile power transmission backbone linking wind turbines several miles offshore with sites along the East Coast.
The underwater cable, "a superhighway for clean energy" in Google's words, is designed to link multiple offshore wind farms to the U.S. power grid. The wind farms, which are separate from the backbone project, would be located 10 to 15 miles offshore so they would have strong wind and would be invisible from shore. Construction costs of the backbone project are estimated to be $5 billion, according to a story in The New York Times.
"By putting strong, secure transmission in place, the project removes a major barrier to scaling up offshore wind, an industry that despite its potential, only had its first federal lease signed last week and still has no operating projects in the U.S.," Google said.
The backbone would have the capacity to deliver 6,000 megawatts of power, enough for 1.9 million households, Google said in its Atlantic Wind Connection announcement. Google has been active in many energy projects, for example by sponsoring research, offering home energy-use monitors, and advocating for smart-grid technology.
Google is providing the project with 37.5 percent of its development-stage funding, which will be used for obtaining approvals and for initial construction, but the initial round of funding is only a small part of what will eventually be required, Google said.
Trans-Elect said it hopes to start construction in 2013, with the first connection arriving in 2016, and the project being completed in 2021 at the earliest.