May 25, 2021 By Ramona du Houx On May 25, the White House announced an effort to advance areas for offshore wind off the northern and central coasts of California – opening up the Pacific Coast to its first commercial scale offshore clean energy projects. In 2020, the sector in Europe attracted over $31 billion of investment, a record amount, according […]
May 25, 2021
By Ramona du Houx
On May 25, the White House announced an effort to advance areas for offshore wind off the northern and central coasts of California – opening up the Pacific Coast to its first commercial scale offshore clean energy projects. In 2020, the sector in Europe attracted over $31 billion of investment, a record amount, according to recent figures from industry body WindEurope. Researchers with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory recently estimated California alone could realize up to 200,000 MW of energy off its shores.
This is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal to create thousands of good-paying, union jobs through the deployment of 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind by 2030. These initial areas for offshore wind development in the Pacific Ocean could bring up to 4.6 GW of clean energy to the grid, enough to power 1.6 million American homes.
More specifically, the Department of the Interior, in coordination with the Department of Defense, has identified an area (“the Morro Bay 399 Area”) that will support three gigawatts of offshore wind on roughly 399 square miles off California’s central coast region, northwest of Morro Bay. The Department of the Interior is also advancing the Humboldt Call Area as a potential Wind Energy Area, located off northern California. These identified areas will enable the build out of a significant new domestic clean energy resource for years to come.
“I believe that a clean energy future is within our grasp in the United States, but it will take all of us and the best-available science to make it happen. Today’s announcement reflects months of active engagement and dedication between partners who are committed to advancing a clean energy future,” said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. “The offshore wind industry has the potential to create tens of thousands of good-paying union jobs across the nation, while combating the negative effects of climate change. Interior is proud to be part of an all-of-government approach toward the Biden-Harris Administration’s ambitious renewable energy goals.”
Because the Defense Department engages in significant testing, training, and operations off the coast of California that are essential to national security, the Defense Department played a critical role in identifying these new areas for offshore wind development. The Department of the Interior acknowledges the critical nature of current and future military testing, training, and operations and that the operational integrity thereof is a national security imperative. It will work closely with the Department of Defense to ensure long-term protection of military testing, training, and operations while pursuing new domestic clean energy resources.
“Tacking the climate crisis is a national security imperative and the Defense Department is proud to have played a role in this important effort. The Defense Department is committed to working across the U.S. government to find solutions that support renewable energy in a manner compatible with t essential military operations. Throughout this effort, the Defense Department has worked tirelessly with the White House, the Department of the Interior, and the State of California to find solutions that enable offshore wind development while ensuring long-term protection for testing, training, and operations critical to our military readiness,” said Under Secretary for Defense Policy Dr. Colin Kahl. “The Defense Department applauds this step and looks forward to continued coordination to address the climate crisis.”
Because the outer continental shelf falls away much more quickly into much deeper waters in the Pacific than it does in the Atlantic Ocean, new floating offshore wind technology will be deployed in offshore California waters.
Notably, and as a further demonstration of the Biden administration’s whole-of-government approach to clean energy development, the Department of Energy, through its Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and ARPA-E, has invested more than $100 million in researching, developing, and demonstrating floating offshore wind technology. The Obama administration heralded the investments in R&D for offshore wind technology with the American Recovery Act, that then Vice President Biden was in charge of implementing.
Many of these grants have gone to the University of Maine to develop the VolturnUS offshore floating wind prototype turbine. (photo right)
“Developing offshore wind to produce clean, renewable energy could be a game changer to achieving California’s clean energy goals and addressing climate change – all while bolstering the economy and creating new jobs,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom. “This historic announcement, which could provide clean power for up to 1.6 million homes over the next decade, represents the innovative approach we need for a clean energy economy that protects the coasts, fisheries, marine life, and Tribal, and cultural resources we value so much as Californians.”
Previously, the Biden Administration announced actions to catalyze offshore wind energy as part of the President’s commitment to building new American infrastructure, and a clean energy future that creates good-paying, union jobs. There are significant funds in the President’s American Jobs Plan for offshore wind. It also follows the Administration’s approval of the first major offshore wind project in U.S waters advancing the construction and operation of the Vineyard Wind project in Massachusetts.
“Today’s announcement again demonstrates that by taking a whole-of-government approach, the U.S. can smartly develop our nation’s world-class offshore wind energy resources, deploy new technologies that our government has helped to advance, and create thousands of good-paying, union jobs – all in the service of combating the climate crisis,” said National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy.”