California Energy Commission unveils 20GW offshore wind by 2045 goal

The California Energy Commission (CEC) released its updated AB 525 report and issued its minded planning target for offshore wind development off California. The report was released in response to California's Governor Newsom's announcement last week (26 July 2022) calling for the CEC to set a planning goal of at least 20GW of offshore wind in 2045.

In its report, the CEC set out that the state’s offshore wind planning goals be set to 2-5 GW by 2030 and 25 GW by 2045. The CEC is expected to give its final approval to these planning goals at its upcoming business meeting on 10 August 2022.

Adam Stern, Executive Director, Offshore Wind California, a trade group of offshore wind developers and technology companies stated: "These goals set an ambitious course and show California is very serious about “going big” on floating offshore wind to strengthen and diversify its clean power portfolio. We’re determined as an industry to work closely with state and federal agencies and other stakeholders to ensure the high end of these goals becomes a reality. Reaching 5 GW of offshore wind power by 2030 will position California to meet and even exceed its 25 GW goal by 2045.

"Offshore Wind California and other industry leaders have encouraged the CEC to approve bold, multi-gigawatt goals for floating offshore wind, which we believe are well supported by the latest industry and academic research. The CEC’s expanded goals are an important milestone and send a clear signal that California is committed to being a leader in responsibly developing this new industry, and to driving the economies of scale that will generate the substantial clean power, climate, and jobs benefits offshore wind can deliver for the state."

Back in May, CEC released its initial Offshore Wind report setting out potential goals for the roll out off offshore wind in Californian waters. The report includes a preliminary planning goal of 3 GW of offshore wind energy by 2030 and 10-15 GW by 2045 with a potential of  20 GW by 2050.

The report comes as a result of AB 525 which was approved by California's Governor Gavin Newsom back in September 2021. AB 525 requires the CEC to evaluate and quantify the maximum feasible offshore wind capacity to achieve reliability, ratepayer, employment, and decarbonisation benefits and to establish offshore wind energy planning goals for 2030 and 2045.

The legislation also requires the CEC, in coordination other relevant federal, state, and local agencies as needed, to develop a strategic plan for offshore wind energy developments installed off the California coast in federal waters, and submit it to the California Natural Resources Agency and the Legislature by no later than 30 June 2023.

Back in May, The Department of the Interior (DOI) announced the next steps for offshore wind lease sales in two regions on the Outer Continental Shelf offshore California. This is the first ever offshore wind lease sale proposed on America’s west coast. The Proposed Sale Notice (PSN) includes three proposed lease areas in the Morro Bay Wind Energy Area off central California and two proposed lease areas in the Humboldt Wind Energy Area off northern California, totalling approximately 373,268 acres. According to BOEM, they have the potential to unlock over 4.5 GW of offshore wind energy and power more than 1.5 million homes.