Offshore Wind Offers Silver Lining During Bomb Cyclones

Vineyard Wind has released a study showing that its proposed 800MW wind farm offshore Massachusetts, US, would have reduced emissions and saved costs in comparison to other energy sources during the Grayson cyclone had it been installed.

The study, prepared by Daymark Energy Advisors, demonstrated that the wind farm would have provided 61 million kilowatt-hours of emission-free generation over the bomb cyclone period from 4 to 7 January, based on wind conditions recorded.

The project would have produced enough lower-cost electricity to reduce regional wholesale electric prices by nearly USD 20 per MWh, saving New England customers over USD 31 million and Massachusetts customers almost USD 15 million, according to the study.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from New England power generators would have also been reduced by 67,485 metric tons, and the farm would have contributed 32,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas reduction benefits that are legally-mandated by the Massachusetts’ Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA).

Continuous cold weather conditions before and during the cyclone resulted in an increase in wholesale gas prices ten times higher than the annual average price during 2017. High prices for natural gas impact the wholesale electricity market because that fuel is used to generate more than half of New England’s electricity during normal weather, Vineyard Wind said.

According to the company, regional pipeline constraints cause gas prices for power generation to soar during periods of extreme cold weather because natural gas is prioritized for home heating. In turn, power stations are forced to burn emission-intensive oil to fuel their turbines, which release tons of excess greenhouse gases and pollutants.

The Vineyard Wind project would have run at full capacity for nearly all four days, relieving the need to burn either natural gas or heating oil, reducing emissions and savings costs even during the coldest weather, the developer said.

“The report clearly details the importance of developing offshore wind at the earliest possible date in Massachusetts,” said Erich Stephens, Chief Development Officer of Vineyard Wind.

“The sooner we start building the Commonwealth’s first offshore wind project, the sooner local residents and businesses will benefit from the abundant environmental and economic advantages that are associated with large-scale renewable and sustainable offshore wind energy.”

Vineyard Wind submitted a proposal to deliver power generated by its 800MW offshore wind farm some 14 miles from Martha’s Vineyard, shortly after they applied for federal and state construction permits with the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities’ Energy Facilities Siting Board for the construction of the project.

By filing for construction permits in 2017, Vineyard Wind is on track to complete the permitting process in time to begin in-state construction in 2019, and be fully operational by 2021.

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