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Google, Marubeni JV to Fund Offshore Wind Power Cable Network

Google and Marubeni, a Japanese trading house, plan to form a joint venture to develop an undersea power cable network along the U.S. Mid-Atlantic coast that will collect and deliver power from offshore wind farms, reports MarketWatch.

The Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC) backbone will cover 350 miles off the coast from New Jersey to Virginia and deliver the capacity to connect 6,000 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind turbines, according to a Google blog.

This is equivalent to 60 percent of the wind energy that was installed in the entire country last year, and will power approximately 1.9 million households, says Google.

Google says the AWC backbone will collect the power from multiple offshore wind farms and deliver the power via sub-sea cables to the highest capacity parts of the land-based transmission system. Google expects the project will remove a major roadblock to scaling up offshore wind.

The AWC project is led by independent transmission company Trans-Elect and is financed by Google, Good Energies and Marubeni Corporation. Google is investing 37.5 percent of the equity in the initial development stage, with the goal of obtaining all the necessary approvals to finance and begin constructing the line.

Trans-Elect estimates the project will cost $5 billion, plus financing and permit fees, reports The New York Times. The $1.8 billion first phase, a 150-mile stretch from northern New Jersey to Rehoboth Beach, Del., could go into service by early 2016, with the remainder completed in 2021 at the earliest, according to the article.

Charlie Hodges, a wind industry analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance in London told Bloomberg Businessweek that the network and Google’s participation in the project will likely drive the wind energy industry in the U.S., which has lagged behind China in installations.

Marubeni spokesman Yo Nomura said in the Businessweek article that the company will conduct a feasibility study by 2013 and will start the first phase in 2016.

Google has made several investments in wind power just in the last year. In July, Google signed an agreement to buy 114 megawatts of electricity from wind power generator NextEra Energy Resources, and in May, invested $38.8 million in two wind farms in North Dakota.

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