California sets major offshore wind target for renewables

The Atlantic states may have a head start in offshore wind, but California has a plan to catch up, if not overtake them.


On Wednesday, the California Energy Commission adopted a goal of developing between 3 and 5 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2030 to reach 25 gigawatts by 2045. The latter goal would generate enough electricity to meet the demand of 25 million homes.

“These ambitious but achievable goals are an important signal of California’s commitment to bringing the offshore wind industry to our state,” CEC Chairman David Hochschild said in a statement.

This is the first step in the commission’s creation of a strategic plan for the development of offshore wind, as required by a law put in place last September. This law tasked the commission with determining the maximum offshore wind capacity the state could possibly build by 2030 and 2045. Now, it looks like we have an answer.

Then, the CEC must submit its full offshore wind plan to the legislature by June 2023. The state will study the potential economic benefits of offshore wind development, as well as developing a plan for the wind farm and permitting transmission.

Assuming the goal materializes, California is poised to become the leader in offshore wind development. No other state has been so ambitious in its long-term offshore wind plans so far, even though the industry is relatively nascent in California. The state’s offshore geography can also pose a challenge in meeting targets. Because the Pacific Ocean floor is so deep off the California coast, building the infrastructure will require the use of floating turbines, which have not yet been widely adopted except for a few sites. in Scotland and Portugal.

The Biden administration has set the national goal of 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030. Much of the progress toward that goal has so far occurred in the Atlantic, with two offshore wind projects in commercial scale already approved off the coast of New England and more in the works.

However, in May, the Department of the Interior proposed the nation’s first lease sale off the coast of California, identifying several areas off the coast of central and northern California as promising.

But the United States is still far behind Europe in terms of deployment and ambition. Denmark, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, for example, recently pledged to increase their combined offshore wind capacity to 150 gigawatts by 2050. This represents a tenfold increase from the 15 gigawatts of capacity offshore that the group currently contributes to the continent’s energy mix. . That would be enough to power around 230 million European homes.

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