California Energy Commission unveils initial offshore wind goals

The California Energy Commission has 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 3GW of offshore wind energy by 2030 and 10-15 GW by 2045 with a potential of  20GW 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, by no later than 1 June 2022.

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.

The CEC must include in the strategic plan the identification of sea space; economic and workforce development and identification of port space and infrastructure; Transmission planning; permitting; and potential impacts on coastal resources, fisheries, Native American and Indigenous peoples, and national defence, and strategies for addressing those potential impacts.

Furthermore, by 31 December 2022, AB 525 requires the CEC to submit to the Natural Resources Agency and the relevant fiscal and policy committees of the Legislature a preliminary assessment of the economic benefits of offshore wind as they relate to seaport investments and workforce development needs and standards. It also requires a permitting roadmap to be submitted to the California Natural Resources Agency and legislative committees for the permitting process for floating offshore wind energy development and associated infrastructure.

Back in November, BOEM designated the Morro Bay wind energy area (WEA) offshore California. Located around 20 km from the central California coastline, the WEA is approximately 376 square miles in size. It plans to lease the Morro Bay area, as well as the Humboldt WEA, which was designated last year, off the northern Californian coast later this year.

For more information on offshore wind farms worldwide, click here.