Deal Sets Stage for U.S. Floating Wind Turbine Boom
Wind production in California waters could produce far more electricity than current East Coast projects
An agreement yesterday among the Interior Department, California and the Department of Defense signals that a new kind of renewable power is set to emerge: floating offshore wind.
The White House announced the plan, which will open parts of California’s deep waters to offshore wind developers. That effectively means a truce in a yearslong turf battle led by the Navy and other branches of the military, which use some of the state’s southern and central waters for training activities (E&E News PM, May 25).
Under the agreement, Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will be able to move ahead with groundwork culminating in mid-2022 to lease off Northern and central California waters for turbine construction.
As much as 4.6 gigawatts of electricity might one day be delivered into California’s grid from offshore turbines in those areas—enough for about 1.6 million homes, said the state’s Democratic governor, Gavin Newsom.
That’s more modest than what many East Coast states have planned for offshore wind. By comparison, 4.6 GW is about half of what’s on the horizon for offshore wind development in New York over the next decade and a half.
Yet California will likely have the distinction of being the first state in the country to host a full-scale industry of wind turbines mounted on floating platforms—a novel concept that remains at pilot stage globally.
“It’s an announcement that will set the stage for the long-term development of clean energy, and the growth of a brand-new made-in-America industry,” said Gina McCarthy, national climate adviser, during a press call yesterday.
Tethered to the ocean floor, floating turbine platforms can be arrayed in areas where the water grows very deep.