A new report that suggests strategies for developing offshore wind in the Golden State has highlighted the key role that will be played by floating wind power.
With some of the highest offshore wind speeds in the world, a floating offshore wind industry in California could dramatically increase in-state renewable energy generation and support more than 17,500 jobs in 2045. That’s according to The California Offshore Wind Project: A Vision for Industry Growth, a report from the American Jobs Project in partnership with the Schatz Energy Research Center (SERC) at Humboldt State University, Pacific Ocean Energy Trust, and BVG Associates.
American Jobs Project managing director and lead author of the report Mary Collins said “Offshore wind can spur a new wave of innovation in California that will support our climate goals. But in order to take full advantage of this important source of clean energy, California needs a co-ordinated state vision to create opportunities for workers and businesses and protect our environmental values.”
In 2018, policymakers set California on a path to 100% clean energy by 2045, creating a need for bold leadership to create more renewable energy generation options. The authors of the report believe offshore wind can help California achieve a resilient, secure, and carbon-free energy future by improving grid stability and operational efficiency, tapping into rapidly decreasing costs and growing demand for the technology, and harnessing the state’s vast natural resources, while also fortifying the state’s international leadership on climate change. In addition, good-paying jobs in offshore wind could be filled by workers transitioning from the fossil fuel sector.
“California’s coast offers some of the highest wind resource potential in the country, and offshore wind could produce more than 1.5 times the electricity the state currently uses in one year,” said Schatz Energy Research Centre director Arne Jacobson. “This report provides useful guidance to policymakers and stakeholders for the effort to develop this important source of renewable energy in a way that respects our vibrant coastal ecosystem and maximises benefits to the local economy.”
Based on extensive research and stakeholder outreach, The California Offshore Wind Project found that, with deep water and some of the highest wind speeds in the country, the Golden State has 112 GW of technical offshore wind resource potential, 1.5 times as much electricity as California uses in one year.
California has the eighth-highest net technical energy resource potential in the US, which suggests that full utilisation of its offshore generation potential could exceed New York and New Jersey, two states that have already made significant investments in the technology.
The report said California is well-placed to tap into the offshore wind market given its 100% carbon-neutral energy goal, and growing interest from leading European offshore wind developers. It also provides short and long-term strategies that take advantage of this unique economic opportunity.
Among the recommendations are setting a market acceleration target and establishing a comprehensive approach to offshore wind studies to guide early development, survey potential impacts on coastal ecosystems, consider innovative financing mechanisms, and reduce red tape; establishing a phased approach to offshore wind workforce development to build a diverse and inclusive workforce, formalise partnerships between industry and training providers, and investing in offshore wind safety training; and aligning innovation and access to capital policies with industry needs and promoting offshore wind research collaboration, knowledge exchange, and business development.
Other recommendations include upgrading ports and establishing port innovation districts to support evolving technology and workforce needs; and appointing a California ‘Offshore Wind Czar’ to co-ordinate activities among state agencies, foster community programmes, advocate for procedural changes in the federal leasing process, build international relationships for knowledge exchange, and capture foreign direct investment opportunities.
Developing floating offshore windfarms off the coast of California could have huge economic benefits according to a 2016 report produced by The National Renewable Energy Laboratory in the US. The study was funded by the US Department of the Interior, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, through Interagency Agreement M14PG00038 with the US Department of Energy.
In September 2018, a consortium of companies and a coastal energy authority submitted a lease application to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to advance development of a floating offshore wind energy project 32 km off the coast of Eureka in northern California. The Redwood Coastal Energy Authority, Principle Power, EDPR Offshore North America and Aker Solutions have been working since 2017 to develop offshore wind potential off Humboldt County.
In June 2018, EnBW Energie in Germany said it was expanding into the US offshore wind market, forming a joint venture with Trident Winds to develop a floating offshore windfarm off the coast of California.
Copenhagen Infrastructure III K/S, part of Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners in Denmark, has teamed with Magellan Wind in the US to develop floating offshore wind projects offshore California and in other areas in the US.