There is a reason why installed offshore wind is not as present in California yet as in states along the East Coast: The West Coast ocean floor is much deeper than on the East Coast. This means that offshore wind farms in California have a need for anchored floating platforms which makes development more complicated. But since new technologies are being introduced that facilitate the development of floating platforms, it can be expected that offshore wind will become more relevant in the state. An example for this prognosis are the exciting three new large-scale developments of floating offshore wind in this article.
1) 2GW floating offshore wind
Golden State Wind, a 50/50 joint venture between Ocean Winds and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPP Investments), was granted a lease in the Morro Bay area for a floating offshore wind project of 2 GW. Ocean Winds is a joint venture in a 50/50 partnership between Madrid-based EDP Renewables and Paris-based ENGIE which is dedicated to offshore wind. The lease area covers 325 km2 in the Morro Bay area, off the central coast of California. It is one of five sites that was part of an auction by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. The offshore wind farm will generate enough electricity to cover the consumption of about 900,000 households.
Location: Morro Bay, about 32km off the coastline in central California
2) 2GW Morro Bay project
Another large area for development of offshore wind capacity was granted to Norway-based Equinor. This acquisition adds at least 2 additional GW to Equinor‘s existing 3.3 GW offshore wind portfolio in the United States. A capacity of 2GW means about 750,000 homes will be powered from this wind farm. The area covers 80,062 acres and is located about 95 kilometres from the coast of California off Morro Bay West.
Location: Morro Bay West, about 95 miles off the coast of California
3) 1.6GW Humboldt Bay offshore wind
In the same auction in December 2022, Germany-based RWE was granted a lease area 45 kilometres off the coast at Humboldt Bay, off the north coast of California, for a winning bid of $157.7 million. The area has the capacity for up to 1.6GW of offshore wind. This is enough to supply electricity to about 640,000 households. The project is expected to become operational by the mid 2030s. For the company, this is a major achievement and RWE’s first large-scale floating wind project in California. RWE’s total offshore wind development portfolio in the US now is about 4.6GW.
Location: 45 km off the coast at Humboldt Bay
Image: Mitchell Orr via Unsplash (25.07.2023)