California officials are looking at expanding offshore wind farms – an expensive but valuable resource that could play a key role in achieving 100% clean energy in the future.
Signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA)’s most ambitious strategic plan in September 2021, with the California Energy Commission introducing its proposal last summer to build 5 GW of offshore floating wind power generation by 2030 and 25 GW by 2045 — enough power to support about 25 million homes.
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“We are at an exciting inflection point for floating offshore wind development in the United States, where federal, state, and industry leadership are now poised to develop a new a reliable and sustainable clean energy resource,” said Jocelyn Brown-Saracino, leader in offshore wind energy. for the US Department of Energy, told the Washington Examiner. “And California’s offshore wind targets for the state’s coastlines, combined with successful federal lease auctions, set the stage for the West Coast to become a global hub for offshore wind expertise. to the beach and make.”
To work toward that target, Newsom has signed several climate laws this session, including some that fast-track the construction of the state’s first offshore wind farms. Newsom negotiated with Democratic lawmakers to allow the California Department of Water Resources to sign long-term contracts for electricity to be purchased from offshore wind facilities for all Californians. Under Assembly Bill 1373, sponsored by Democratic Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia of Coachella, DWR can operate as a centralized procurement entity until January 1, 2035.
California State Environmental Director Laura Deehan, who has campaigned for offshore wind development and sponsored some of the passed bills, told the Washington Examiner that this new bill gives DRW the state “power to make specific purchases for any clean energy that is needed for a while, such as offshore wind or geothermal or long-term storage.
“Because offshore wind is a longer lead time energy source, it requires building a project,” Deehan said. “It’s actually difficult for some entities to order that energy source.”
Assembly Democratic Caucus Chairman Rick Chavez Zbur authored Assembly Bill 3, the Offshore Wind and Jobs Act, which aims to promote offshore wind energy projects in the state, improve port readiness so that the California will be a hub for the wind manufacturing sector.
Deehan said that there is a lot of heavy lifting needed to expand these ports.
“In order to get the giant turbines to turn on the coast, we have to do a lot of upgrades to the ports in California, where the turbines have to be launched into the sea, where all the maintenance crews will work. , where there are transmission line coming ashore,” Deehan said. “So we’re going to have to do a lot of work to expand the ports so they can handle some of the new demand.”
Newsom also signed Senate Bill 286, another step forward in the process for new offshore wind development. SB 286 streamlines the state’s offshore wind permitting process by designating the State Lands Commission (SLC) as the lead agency for the California Environmental Quality Act to protect groups that may be affected by projects in wind
“This bill will speed up the state’s offshore wind permitting process, removing a staggering 5 years from the permitting timeline while protecting California’s coastline and storied fishing fleet,” the Democratic state Senate President said. Designee Mike McGuire, the sponsor, said in a statement. .
Deehan said the group has been working for years with state lawmakers, officials, and other environmental groups to push for new offshore wind laws.
“We have the technology, we have the potential, to take the wind and use that power to generate electricity that can power everyone in our society — it’s just a unique opportunity,” Deehan said.
Deehan said that wind power off the coast of California could be used to meet all of the electricity needs in the future, as the state has seen a dramatic growth in renewable energy in recent years.
“We’re talking 25 miles offshore, the wind is very strong and very strong and it’s a very powerful potential energy source,” Deehan said.
The future for offshore wind gained momentum in December when the first leases were awarded to two federally designated wind areas. The federal government is auctioning leases for 583 square miles of ocean in Humboldt County and Morro Bay by the end of 2022, and lessees are working hard to get their projects off the ground, hoping to the killing of offshore wind legislation this session is fast. – tracking things.
Officials are using their resources to address concerns about how best to protect marine life during the construction of offshore wind farms and learn from other countries that are in the process, such as in Europe and China.
“California is like this biodiversity hotspot,” Deehan said. “We have incredible wildlife living on the coast. A lot of people are justifiably concerned about what this new, new ocean industry means for wildlife.”
Deehan added that a West Coast wildlife research center is in the works, which aims to provide resources to scientists to monitor impacts on marine life.
“One of the things that is a big priority for Environmental California, and for many other environmental and conservation groups, is to make sure that conservation and wildlife are top of mind as our state plans to meet our onshore wind goals,” said Deehan.