The U.S. has just turned on its first offshore wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island. In the meantime, offshore wind continues to grow by leaps and bounds in Europe. Wind energy in the European Union accounts for 12% of its electricity supply. Until 2011, offshore wind comprised only 5-10% of the newly-installed wind energy capacity; now it about one third of the new installations.
The traditional model of the electricity grid is one where centralized large power plants send power through transmission lines to substations and then on to homes and businesses. As localized renewable energy sources, energy storage systems, and efficiency systems proliferate throughout the system, a new concept is emerging: that of the virtual power plant.