- Sep 15, 2021 6:47 am GMT
The California legislature passed a bill that requires state agencies to establish a “strategic plan” for building an offshore wind industry at scale – a process the California Energy Commission (CEC) will lead – that includes 2030 and 2045 planning goals and is a key step toward building over 4GW of floating projects in the US Pacific.
ill AB 525 seeks to provide such a roadmap in recognition that California must make a clear commitment to offshore wind and set ambitious goals necessary to lure billions of dollars in potential investment, something east coast states have done with great success thus far.
“It’s another positive development for the offshore wind industry in California,” Jonah Margulis, senior vice president of US operations at Aker Offshore Wind, told Recharge, adding the bill provides more certainty to all stakeholders that it’s not an “if” offshore wind is coming but a matter of “when.”
Aker is part of a consortium proposing to develop the Redwood Coast offshore wind project near Humboldt in northern California with an initial 150MW capacity by 2025.
The legislation sets a 1 June 2022 deadline for CEC to evaluate and quantify the maximum feasible capacity of offshore wind to “achieve reliability, ratepayer, employment, and decarbonisation benefits.”
California is calculated to112GW of offshore wind energy potential but development of the resource will need floating platform technology due to the fact that the state’s narrow outer continental shelf rules out using conventional bottom-fixed foundations.
The bill requires CEC to submit the strategic plan to both the legislature and state Natural Resources Agency by 30 June 2023.
CEC’s plan will have to address, at a minimum, five core issues: identification of sea space in federal waters for responsible development; economic and workforce development and identification of port space and infrastructure; transmission planning; permitting, and potential impacts on coastal resources, fisheries, indigenous peoples and national defence, and strategies for addressing them.
“The strategic plan shall emphasise and prioritise near-term actions, particularly related to port retrofits and investments and the workforce, to accommodate the probably immediate need for jobs and economic development,” according to the bill’s text.
AB 525 specifically requires CEC to develop and produce a permitting guideline that describes the timeframes and milestones for both offshore wind energy facilities and associated electricity and transmission infrastructure.
The resulting timeframes will need approval from the US Department of Interior which regulates industry commercial activity on the federal OCS where all offshore wind projects will be located.
Deployment of 10GW of offshore wind by 2045 – only a small portion of the region's huge potential – could bring $1bn of annual cost savings to the California electricity system, increase the state’s energy security and independence and deliver high levels of reliable power directly to major load centres on the coast, a recent study from the USC Schwarzenegger Institute claimed.
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