This project, entitled Economic and Environmental Performance of Potential Northeast Offshore Wind Energy Resources was a pilot research project of the MTC-DOE-GE Offshore Wind Collaborative (OWC). This document summarizes the work at MIT from September 2004 through December 2005.
Key questions related to the potential of offshore wind in the Northeastern United States are whether there are better winds further offshore, and whether they are substantially better to justify the additional investment and operational costs of developing wind farms further from shore, and in deeper waters. Additionally, how variable are offshore winds, from season-to-season and from year-to-year? How might these factors affect the revenue potential and emissions benefits of offshore wind relative to regional power markets and the displacement of fossil generation?
This project focused on gathering and assessing offshore wind resource information along the Northeastern United States coast, and evaluating the potential economic and environmental performance of these resources. The MIT research team collected publicly available windspeed data to calculate parameters such as energy generation, revenue, and avoided emissions from wind turbines if located in environments similar to what exist off the Northeast coast.
This project addresses fundamental economic and environmental issues related to the costs and benefits of deep-water offshore wind for New England. We identify key performance thresholds including cost, and we quantify the variability of the offshore wind regime. Finally, we highlight areas for further research needed to refine and extend these and other performance metrics.
We collected and analyzed windspeed information from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) (www.ndbc.noaa.gov) and the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) (www.ncdc.noaa.gov). This information was used to evaluate the potential economic and environmental performance of Northeast offshore wind energy resources. Based upon the available data, seventeen data sites were analyzed (see map in Figure 2.1). They represent a subset of the NOAA stations, and were chosen because they have at least one recent year of data available.
The research team analyzed historical NOAA windspeed data and calculated windspeed at wind turbine hub height for each individual data site, and estimated potential generation, wholesale power market revenue, and avoided emissions from locating wind turbines in similar environments. These calculations were based on historical hourly values of: NOAA windspeeds, New England Independent System Operator (ISO-NE) wholesale power prices, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emission rates for fossil generators.
Throughout this study, collaboration with other institutions took place, especially with the RENEWABLE ENERGY RESOURCE LABORATORY at the University of MassachusettsAmherst. The MIT research team met frequently with our UMass colleagues, and with the larger OWC pilot project research group (Dec. 2004, Jun. 2005) throughout the research period. We would like to thank the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative for their funding for this pilot research project.