Where is the ideal location for a US East Coast offshore grid?

Michael J. Dvorak, Eric D. Stoutenburg, Mark Z. Jacobson, Cristina L. Archer, Willett Kempton, Willett Kempton

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This paper identifies the location of an "ideal" offshore wind energy (OWE) grid on the U.S. East Coast that would (1) provide the highest overall and peak-time summer capacity factor, (2) use bottom-mounted turbine foundations (depth 50 m), (3) connect regional transmissions grids from New England to the Mid-Atlantic, and (4) have a smoothed power output, reduced hourly ramp rates and hours of zero power. Hourly, high-resolution mesoscale weather model data from 2006-2010 were used to approximate wind farm output. The offshore grid was located in the waters from Long Island, New York to the Georges Bank, ≈450 km east. Twelve candidate 500 MW wind farms were located randomly throughout that region. Four wind farms (2000 MW total capacity) were selected for their synergistic meteorological characteristics that reduced offshore grid variability. Sites likely to have sea breezes helped increase the grid capacity factor during peak time in the spring and summer months. Sites far offshore, dominated by powerful synoptic-scale storms, were included for their generally higher but more variable power output. By interconnecting all 4 farms via an offshore grid versus 4 individual interconnections, power was smoothed, the no-power events were reduced from 9% to 4%, and the combined capacity factor was 48% (gross). By interconnecting offshore wind energy farms ≈450 km apart, in regions with offshore wind energy resources driven by both synoptic-scale storms and mesoscale sea breezes, substantial reductions in low/no-power hours and hourly ramp rates can be made. Copyright 2012 by the American Geophysical Union.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)L06804
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Electric utilities
  • Energy resources
  • Storms
  • Wind power

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