Google-led investors in $5-bn offshore energy project

Investors led by Internet giant Google and Japan's Marubeni Corp, have embarked on a $5-billion ambitious clean energy project by planning to capture the enormous potential of offshore wind energy along the Mid-Atlantic coast by build an underwater electricity superhighway that would carry wind power to land.

Google, Marubeni and New York investment firm Good Energies have teamed up to finance the gigantic project dubbed Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC) along with the project developer Trans-Elect to accelerate offshore wind development, which will power 1.9 million homes along the Mid-Atlantic coast.

When complete, the AWC will stretch 350 miles off the coast from New Jersey to Virginia and will be able to connect 6,000 MW of offshore wind, enough power to serve approximately 1.9 million households.

The system is also scalable and can be expanded to accommodate additional offshore wind energy as the industry further develops.

The project will start in 2013 and is scheduled to be completed by 2020. The project's first phase, which would cost around $1.8 billion and be operational by 2016, could deliver 2,000 megawatts of wind energy - enough to power about 500,000 homes.

The AWC backbone will be built around offshore power hubs that will collect the power from multiple offshore wind farms and deliver it efficiently via sub-sea cables to the strongest, highest capacity parts of the land-based transmission system. This system will act as a superhighway for clean energy.