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NY study details lessons learned from European offshore wind industry

In an effort to help guide offshore wind development in the United States, the largest state-owned U.S. utility released its study on lessons to be learned from Europe's experience in building and integrating offshore wind farms into their power grids.

In an Aug. 7 report, the New York Power Authority, or NYPA, shared key takeaways from its study of European offshore wind transmission models as New York pursues its goal of developing 9 GW of offshore wind by 2035.

The report was commissioned in August 2018 by the NYPA, the New York ISO, Consolidated Edison Inc., the Long Island Power Authority and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and with additional input from National Grid USA. The report sought insights from more than two decades' of offshore wind development in Europe. It comes almost a year after the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority signed a memorandum of understanding with Denmark's energy ministry to further work on offshore wind development in New York.

It also follows Gov. Andrew Cuomo's July 18 selection of two offshore wind projects with a combined capacity of 1,700 MW as the winning bids in the state's first comprehensive solicitation for the renewable resource.

The new study forecasts that northeastern U.S. states will develop a combined total of 19 GW of offshore wind projects by 2035. In comparison, the four European countries covered in the study — Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and the U.K. have installed more than 18 GW of offshore wind capacity over the past 20 years and have committed to building a total of 70 GW by 2028.

"We see great value in studying what European countries have learned about transmission and interconnection infrastructure," NYPA President and CEO Gil Quiniones said in a news release.

The study, "Offshore Wind – A European Perspective," closely examined transmission and grid interconnection strategies as well as development and electricity rate structures in the U.K., Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark, which enabled each country to lower its offshore wind costs over time.

Healthy competition and scaled-up transmission infrastructure are key to building New York's offshore wind capacity and meeting the state's ambitious renewable development goals, the report found.

The authors also concluded that transparent, long-term onshore and offshore grid planning not only removes barriers to entry for developers but also improves coordination and lowers costs. In addition, aligning the incentives for long-term grid planning, coordination and performance is important in order to provide incentives to finish wind projects in a timely manner.

Finally, cross-border coordination has helped European countries leverage planned transmission infrastructure, provide resource flexibility and take advantage of economies of scale, the study found.