A newly formed industrial coalition of offshore wind heavyweights including developers Orsted, Equinor and Northland Power has called on the Californian government to build at least 10GW of floating projects in the next two decades to add momentum to state plans to reach 100% renewable energy by 2045.
Offshore Wind California (OWC), being launched today at the Pacific Rim Offshore Wind conference in San Francisco, believes the state is “well-positioned to break out as the next investment hot spot” for the US’ burgeoning offshore wind sector, pointing to National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) estimates that a build-out of this scale would create 18,000 jobs and generate $20bn in gross domestic product by mid-century.
“It’s time for California, a renewable energy leader with one of the world’s best offshore wind resources, to stake its claim to the growing benefits of offshore wind, including jobs, economic development, lower emissions, and potential savings for ratepayers,” said OWC executive director Adam Stern.
“Offshore wind is poised to play a major role helping California meet its renewable energy goals,” said chair of the California Energy Commission David Hochschild.
“Working together, industry leaders, policy makers, environmental advocates, labour unions and power providers can advance the technology and make this renewable resource a mainstream, competitive clean energy source. Offshore wind holds great promise as part of the diverse power portfolio and transformative clean energy change California is looking for.”
Orsted head of new markets and OWC board chair Sunny Gupta stated: “Offshore wind is critical to reach [California’s goal of 100% power from renewables by 2045] and will create jobs and green growth.
“It’s an ideal complement to existing renewable resources, with steady and powerful winds that grow even stronger after sunset. We want California to seize its opportunity to be a leading offshore wind market − in the US and across the Pacific Rim.”
Along with Orsted, Equinor and Northland Power, the other founding members of OWC are: Aker Solutions, Magellan Wind, Mainstream Renewable Power, Principle Power and non-profit body the Pacific Ocean Energy Trust, which is supporting the new coalition.
The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which oversees development of US outer continental shelf waters, estimates three ‘call areas’ it plans to lease in 2020 hold up to 8.4GW of capacity alone. NREL calculates the technical potential of offshore wind in California’s stretch of the Pacific Ocean to be in the region of 112GW.
In June, the US government announced it would hold a first commercial lease auction in 2020 for three deep water wind zones – Diablo Canyon, Morro Bay and Humboldt – and was reviewing expressions of interest from 14 developers.
A recent study from consultancy Energy + Environmental Economics, meanwhile, highlighted the wider economic benefit to be drawn from floating wind power in California, including saving rate-payers $2bn on their electricity bills by 2040 if the state builds out a 7-9GW fleet, which would be able to supply 10% of state demand by this date.