FLOATING OFFSHORE WIND: Benefits & Challenges for Oregon
- Sep 19, 2022 5:58 pm GMT
Achieving Oregon’s economy-wide decarbonization and clean electricity policies will require developing a tremendous scale of new renewable generation projects.
Federal waters off Oregon’s coast hold the potential to develop dozens of gigawatts of floating offshore wind that could make a meaningful contribution to an all-of-theabove solution to achieving the state’s clean energy goals. However, as described in this report, developing and integrating gigawatt-scales of floating offshore wind into Oregon’s electric grid will be challenging.
While HB 3375 has resulted in this initial, high-level assessment of potential opportunities, challenges, and benefits of developing FOSW, a more comprehensive state planning effort will be necessary to address the many challenges associated with FOSW development. Any state planning strategy should be centered around collaborative engagement with the public; local communities; Tribes; stakeholder interest groups; utilities; and state, regional, and federal entities, along with an allocation of resources to fund additional technical studies to address data gaps. This type of effort could also help to identify the optimal contribution that the FOSW resource can contribute to the state’s overall strategy for developing a portfolio of diverse resources to achieve mid-century policy goals.
Many other states already have or are currently developing comprehensive state plans specifically targeted to offshore wind development. Two examples of states planning for FOSW are California and Maine; see Appendix A for a summary of these efforts and more details. Regional collaboration may be necessary to develop sufficient scales of power purchasing and infrastructure investments needed to initiate FOSW project development.
There are many regional forums that are contemplating and discussing relevant regional issues – including decarbonization, regional energy markets, and sustainable fisheries – that could be leveraged as the platform for this regional collaboration. Some of these forums include the West Coast Ocean Alliance, Western Governors Association, Northwest Power and Conservation Council, Western Power Pool, Pacific Fishery Management Council, and the Pacific Coast Collaborative. If the challenges can be overcome, floating offshore wind could make significant contributions to achieving Oregon’s GHG and clean energy policies, while strengthening the reliability and resilience of the power system for coastal communities.
Development of this industry along Oregon’s coast could initiate a new energy-based economy in coastal communities, supporting large numbers of jobs and economic investments. While these benefits are compelling, it is critical that the potential effects on existing economies, cultures, communities, and the environment are assessed, avoided to the maximum extent practicable, and mitigated where necessary. This is best accomplished through intentional and robust engagement with affected communities to develop successful outcomes.
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