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California: A pioneer in the development of floating offshore wind technology


The Department of Interior and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) were praised by the American Clean Power Association (ACP) for holding a historic and prosperous wind energy lease sale that will establish California as a leader in floating offshore wind technology. The U.S. Treasury will receive $757.1 million from the BOEM-conducted offshore wind energy lease sale.

The wind energy lease areas, which span 373,000 acres and are located in two places on the Outer Continental Shelf off the coast of California, will produce at least 4.5 gigawatts (GW) of dependable, carbon-free electricity—enough to power 1.5 million households. The projects’ construction and lease sale will assist in reaching a number of important state and federal objectives, including California’s aims of installing up to 5 GW of floating wind by 2031 and 25 GW by 2045, as well as having a grid with zero emissions by that year. The sale will also assist in achieving American objectives to construct 15 GW of floating wind by 2035 and 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030.

“This lease sale demonstrates the promise of floating offshore wind technology and represents a historic step for California’s decarbonization aspirations. According to JC Sandberg, interim CEO and chief advocacy officer of ACP, California is poised to lead the way in floating wind technology, which will reduce energy costs and improve grid dependability. The businesses that are pushing the use of floating offshore wind technologies are commended. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) states that the maximum depth of water at which floating substructures can be used instead of fixed-bottom support structures is around 60 meters. There is a significant economic incentive to create floating offshore wind technology that can reduce the cost of harvesting these resources because the majority of the world’s viable offshore wind resources are found at depths more than 60 meters.

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According to Sandberg, “This sale demonstrates considerable interest in the California floating wind market and is undeniable proof that BOEM’s leasing procedure works.” The lease sale will cause California to develop into a center for floating offshore wind technology, with only a few floating offshore wind projects in Europe and Asia. On the East Coast, the lease auctions held so far have been concentrated in shallower waters where turbines are installed on fixed bottom platforms that are anchored to the seabed. The domestic supply chain is receiving billions of dollars from the U.S. offshore wind business, including investments in fabrication facilities, port improvements, boats, and labor training. With the installation of 30 GW of offshore wind, up to 83,000 jobs and $25 billion in annual economic output might be generated.

The lease auction by BOEM came about as a result of in-depth environmental evaluations, significant interaction with a wide range of stakeholders, including states, maritime industry, commercial fisheries, non-governmental groups, and a protracted public comment period. The awardee has the exclusive authority to suggest a project in the region and request federal assessment of its proposal under the terms of the commercial lease. To ensure that the nation’s objective of deploying 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030 is met, BOEM wants to approve 25 GW of offshore wind by 2025. BOEM has established a strategy to guarantee that the United States can expand the offshore wind industry and has already hosted nine competitive lease sales for commercial wind energy leases off the Atlantic Coast. Oregon is anticipated to hold a lease auction after California as soon as the summer of 2024.

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