California’s first pilot floating wind array has gained the approval of the US “space force”, clearing one hurdle from its path toward development.
Floventis Energy has reached an agreement with the US Department of Defence (DoD) that will allow its Cademo project located in state waters off Vandenburg Space Force Base to go forward.
“This agreement is a big step, both for our project and for the California offshore wind industry,” said Mikael Jakobsson, director of Floventis Energy.
The mitigation agreement between the developer and DoD signed this week “helps create a testing and verification process to ensure that offshore renewable energy can coexist with national security,” Jakobsson added.
Vandenburg, in central California's Santa Barbara County, hosts launch pads for NASA and SpaceX spacecraft, intercontinental missiles for the military, and region-wide military radar.
The agreement creates a series of de-confliction protocols for the four-turbine array to operate in busy airspace used by Vandenberg’s space launches.
Floventis, a joint venture of American renewables firm Cierco and Dutch offshore oil and gas provider SBM Offshore, is planning on installing 15MW turbines whose tips will reach 870 feet (265 m) high.
Under the agreement, DoD and the US Air Force commit to file non-objection letters with the Federal Aviation Administration and other federal and state agencies to green-light Cademo’s permitting process.
Cademo is one of two small pilot arrays proposed for California state waters. French developer BW Ideol has proposed a 40MW array for the state.
Floventis anticipates a 2027 commissioning date for its 60MW project but faces multiple federal and state regulatory and permitting hurdles, including passing California’s exhaustive environmental quality act (CEQA) process.
California has the nation’s largest offshore wind ambitions, aiming for 2-5GW by 2030 towards 25GW by 2045, but will confront multiple constraints, including lack of grid capacity and port and supply chain infrastructure.
Last December, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the regulator of energy development in federal waters, auctioned five leases in two separate wind energy areas (WEAs) off the central California coastline at Morro Bay and the northern reaches of Humboldt County.