California Adopts 25-GW Floating Offshore Wind Goal by 2045

Source: 8/10/2022, Location: North America

The California Energy Commission (CEC) today approved a bold set of offshore wind planning goals, as directed by the state's AB 525 law, putting California on a path to responsibly develop up to 5 gigawatts (GW) of floating offshore wind power by 2030 and 25 GW by 2045. These goals, which expand targets in an earlier report, send an important signal to industry and other state and federal agencies that California is committed to being a leader on offshore wind and moving expeditiously to strengthen and diversify its clean power portfolio.

"These goals set an ambitious course and show that California is very serious about 'going big' on floating offshore wind, to drive economies of scale and generate the very substantial clean power, climate, and jobs benefits this renewable energy resource can deliver for our state," said Adam Stern, Executive Director of Offshore Wind California (OWC), a trade group that represents the state's offshore wind industry. "Achieving 5 GW of offshore wind by 2030 will position the state to meet and even exceed its 25 GW goal by 2045. For California and offshore wind, going bigger is better."

"California is home to one of the world's best offshore wind resources in the world and I am confident that this clean, domestic source of electricity can play an important role in meeting our state's growing need for clean energy," said Governor Gavin Newsom, in remarks cited in a presentation on the offshore wind planning goals at the CEC's August 10 Business Meeting. Last month, Newsom called on the CEC to raise its offshore wind target to at least 20 GW by 2045.

"This is a moment for boldness," said David Hochschild, CEC Chair, who led the hearing in Sacramento where the CEC unanimously approved the expanded goals in the state's revised offshore wind report. "What we do here matters far more than we realize. We have a great track record of starting big things in California, of pushing the envelope and that spreading. What we're doing today on offshore wind is it yet another step in that proud journey. I fully support it."

Last September, Newsom signed the AB 525 law that directs the CEC to establish planning targets for this clean energy technology. By June 30, 2023, AB 525 also directs the CEC to work with other agencies and stakeholders to prepare a comprehensive strategic plan for offshore wind development, including transmission, port infrastructure, procurement, additional call areas, workforce development, and a sustainable supply chain. Later this fall, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) expects to begin leasing at the state's Morro Bay and Humboldt Wind Energy Areas (WEAs).

"I applaud these proposed goals of 2-5 GW by 2030 and 25 GW by 2045, which are the largest of any state in our country," said David Chiu, who was lead author of AB 525 in the State Assembly and is currently City Attorney of San Francisco. "Now is exactly the time for us to be bold and visionary and to lead. We will look back to this moment as you adopt this report with its recommended goals as a critical milestone in our efforts to combat climate change."

"The ultimate goal is to develop a thriving, world-leading floating wind industry," said Paula Major, Vice President, U.S. Offshore Wind, Mainstream Renewable Power and Board Chair, OWC. "This shows California is committed to 'going big' and moving forward—now. We're determined as an industry to work closely with state and federal agencies and other stakeholders to reach the high end of these goals, and help make California a global leader in floating offshore wind."

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) estimates California's technical offshore wind potential at 200 GW, with more than 20 GW in BOEM's two designated WEAs and three wind study areas. Deep West Coast waters require floating technologies already being deployed in other world markets. NREL reports developing California offshore wind at this scale would support tens of thousands of jobs, supply over 15 percent of its current electricity needs, generate enough competitively priced power for at least 7 million homes, and produce tens of billion of dollars in GDP for the state by 2050.

California's 2021 joint agency report concluded that to reach 100 percent clean energy by 2045, the state needs a diverse renewables portfolio including offshore wind. The report's 'SB 100 Core Scenario' said 10 GW of offshore wind would save ratepayers $1 billion or more in installed clean power capacity by 2045 and complement other renewables on the grid.

Offshore Wind California's board member companies include Aker Offshore Wind, BP, Equinor, Hexicon, Magellan Wind, Mainstream Renewable Power, Řrsted, Pacific Ocean Energy Trust, Principle Power, RWE, Shell and SSE Renewables.

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