Electric power from offshore wind via synoptic-scale interconnection

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Apr 20;107(16):7240-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0909075107. Epub 2010 Apr 5.


World wind power resources are abundant, but their utilization could be limited because wind fluctuates rather than providing steady power. We hypothesize that wind power output could be stabilized if wind generators were located in a meteorologically designed configuration and electrically connected. Based on 5 yr of wind data from 11 meteorological stations, distributed over a 2,500 km extent along the U.S. East Coast, power output for each hour at each site is calculated. Each individual wind power generation site exhibits the expected power ups and downs. But when we simulate a power line connecting them, called here the Atlantic Transmission Grid, the output from the entire set of generators rarely reaches either low or full power, and power changes slowly. Notably, during the 5-yr study period, the amount of power shifted up and down but never stopped. This finding is explained by examining in detail the high and low output periods, using reanalysis data to show the weather phenomena responsible for steady production and for the occasional periods of low power. We conclude with suggested institutions appropriate to create and manage the power system analyzed here.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Conservation of Natural Resources / methods*
  • Electric Power Supplies*
  • Electricity
  • Energy-Generating Resources*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Geography
  • Power Plants
  • United States
  • Wind*