California offshore wind

California has big plans for offshore wind. However, because the continental shelf drops steeply the turbines will be floating. The MIT Technology Review has an article on the difficulties of the enormous task. One hopes the project goes better than the California high-speed rail project.

The state has an even more ambitious goal: building 25 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2045…The turbines built near Morro Bay and off Humboldt, where water depths reach up to 1,300 meters (around 4,300 feet), will need to be placed on floating platforms, a speculative and very costly technology. Some companies have begun using such platforms, which are tethered to the sea bottom on moorings, in places such as the coasts of Portugal and Scotland. But these sites still produce relatively little power. To meet its ambitious plans, California will need to develop sprawling fleets of these floating wind turbines very quickly…

But there are enormous engineering and regulatory challenges ahead. Achieving California’s targets could require creating or upgrading ports, constructing new vessels, streamlining permitting processes, building up a West Coast wind manufacturing sector, and shifting to new types of platforms that could be cheaper to deliver and install. And all of that would have to occur at an incredibly rapid pace…

For now, however, floating wind power remains hugely expensive. It’s hard to put precise figures on the technology today, given the small pool of projects across different regions, but the levelized cost is roughly $200 per megawatt-hour…Standard offshore wind, land-based wind projects and large-scale solar farms run around $80, $30 and $35 per megawatt-hour, respectively…

In addition to the high costs, any US floating wind development will also have to grapple with some onerous regulations…California faces still more challenges. Many of the state’s ports are too shallow and its bridges too low to accommodate the giant turbines, towers, and platforms, which are far easier to assemble before they’re carried to the offshore site…

In addition, it could cost tens of billions of dollars to develop the electricity transmission capacity needed to plug all the envisioned offshore wind turbines into the grid. California’s Independent System Operator, which manages the state’s main electricity network, found that just accommodating four gigawatts of electricity from the sites near Humboldt County could cost between $5 and $8 billion.

Finally, there’s the question of permitting…


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Who needs permitting?

Build beyond the 200-mile limit from shore (anywhere) and sell fully (re)charged batteries at a reasonable price. Or operate a battery recharging system. Bring in your batteries and they recharge them for a price. Entrepreneurship, right?


We’ve been doing floating oil rigs for quite a while now. I would think that the same tech would be used for a floating windmill. Probably put several turbines on a single floating structure, since the hard part is anchoring to the sea bed.


And on the other coast…

Developers looking to build thousands of wind turbines off the Mid-Atlantic and New England coast are coming up against a force even more relentless than the Atlantic winds: the Iron Law of Megaprojects, offering a warning of the trouble ahead for green-energy projects. The Iron Law, coined by Oxford Professor Bent Flyvbjerg, says that “megaprojects” — which cost billions of dollars, take years to complete, and are socially transformative — reliably come in over budget, over time, over and over…

The New York state government, looking to replace oil- and gas-fired powerplants with hundreds of wind towers off Long Island, set out in 2019 to create an offshore wind supply chain from scratch, beginning with a massive state-funded turbine fabrication facility about 100 miles north of New York City on the Hudson River. Ground still hasn’t even been broken, but the budget certainly has: The price of that Port of Albany facility has already doubled from $350 million to $700 million. An additional $100 million may be needed for equipment costs, raising the final price tag to $800 million.

A similar situation is playing out in New London, Connecticut, where a state-funded pier facility being built to support that state’s offshore wind buildout has more than doubled in price from an original estimate of $95 million to $250 million…


Wind turbines are placed well away from each other so that upstream units don’t “shadow” the downstream ones, substantially reducing the power output.

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.

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AFAIK, not on the west coast. The article mentions the problem of building these structures in California. The timeline looks iffy.


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California’s record with high-speed rail does not instill confidence.

Croll [director of Pacific offshore wind at American Clean Power, a clean energy trade group] said it’s ​“certainly possible” for California to reach its minimum target of 2 to 5 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030 despite these complex interdependencies. ​“But a lot of things have to align — and align very tightly,” she said. ​“You need transmission to be done on time, procurement to be done on time, permitting to be done on time, ports to be done on time. That means extraordinary coordination and public policy alignment, as well as sustained political will.”


Clean Energy, Cherished Waters and a Sacred California Rock Caught in the Middle

The 7,573-square-mile sanctuary would include 156 miles of coastline between the towns of Cambria and Gaviota and link the Greater Farallones and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuaries to the north and the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary to the south, creating a chain of conservation of more than 20,000 square miles. The new designation would limit offshore oil drilling, acoustic underwater testing and other activities in the area, while providing funding for research and protection to numerous Chumash sacred sites, both on and offshore…

But NOAA has thrown a late wrench in the plans. In an effort to allow for the development of an offshore wind energy project, NOAA is now suggesting shifting the sanctuary’s borders to remove a section of the coastline that includes Morro Bay and Morro Rock — or Lisamu’, a site sacred to the Chumash that was always meant by the tribe to be the hub of the sanctuary.


In a step toward building the first massive wind farms off California’s coast, three Assemblymembers today proposed a $1 billion bond act to help pay for the expansion of ports…

An extensive network of offshore and onshore development would be necessary. Costly upgrades to ports will be critical, along with undersea transmission lines, new electrical distribution networks and more.

The Port of Long Beach, for instance, is planning Pier Wind, a $4.7 billion, 400-acre offshore wind turbine assembly terminal. One of the largest and busiest ports in the nation, it is the only location in California close to being able to assemble and deploy turbines, according to previous CalMatters reporting.

In Humboldt County, some federal grants have been awarded to develop its small port for wind farms. The federal Department of Transportation last month awarded the Humboldt Bay harbor district $426.7 million to build a new marine terminal where turbines can be assembled and transported.



And to the north…

Federal officials say Oregon’s wind energy areas were developed “following extensive engagement and feedback from the state, Tribes, local residents, ocean users, federal government partners, and other members of the public” and are based on reducing conflicts with ocean users, particularly commercial fishermen…

But local groups representing fishermen and Indigenous communities said that narrative is inaccurate and the federal government’s engagement with local communities was perfunctory at best, failing to take into account suggested effects on local fishing areas, the environment and views that are sacred to tribes.

The groups said the announcement caught them by surprise since Gov. Tina Kotek had asked the federal agency last June to pause identifying and leasing offshore wind areas so the state could fully evaluate potential impacts on the environment and economy.

“We are furious with this surprise announcement, literally stunned,” Heather Mann, executive director of Midwater Trawlers Cooperative, told The Oregonian/OregonLive. “None of our concerns have been addressed.”