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US Government opens up Pacific Coast for offshore wind

4C Offshore | Tom Russell
By: Tom Russell 26/05/2021 White House
The White House has announced a new effort to advance areas for offshore wind off the northern and central coasts of California – opening up the Pacific Coast to its first commercial scale offshore renewable energy projects. These initial areas for offshore wind development in the Pacific Ocean could bring up to 4.6 GW of energy to the grid, enough to power 1.6 million American homes.

The Department of the Interior, in coordination with the Department of Defense, has identified an area (“the Morro Bay 399 Area”) that will support 3 GW of offshore wind on roughly 399 square miles off California’s central coast region, northwest of Morro Bay. The Department of the Interior is also advancing the Humboldt Call Area as a potential Wind Energy Area, located off northern California. These identified areas will enable the build out of a significant new domestic clean energy resource for years to come.

Because the Defense Department engages in significant testing, training, and operations off the coast of California that are essential to national security, the Defense Department played a role in identifying these new areas for offshore wind development. The Department of the Interior is to work closely with the Department of Defense to ensure the long-term protection of military testing, training, and operations while pursuing new domestic clean energy resources.

Because the outer continental shelf falls away much more quickly into much deeper waters in the Pacific than it does in the Atlantic Ocean, it is expected that floating offshore wind technology will be deployed in offshore California waters. The Department of Energy, through its Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and ARPA-E, has invested more than $100 million in researching, developing, and demonstrating floating offshore wind technology.

National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy said: “Today’s announcement again demonstrates that by taking a whole-of-government approach, the U.S. can smartly develop our nation’s world-class offshore wind energy resources, deploy new technologies that our government has helped to advance, and create thousands of good-paying, union jobs – all in the service of combating the climate crisis. I salute the Departments of the Interior, Defense, and Energy, and our partners in California, for all they have done to make this possible.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom said: “Developing offshore wind to produce clean, renewable energy could be a game changer to achieving California’s clean energy goals and addressing climate change – all while bolstering the economy and creating new jobs. This historic announcement, which could provide clean power for up to 1.6 million homes over the next decade, represents the innovative approach we need for a clean energy economy that protects the coasts, fisheries, marine life, and Tribal, and cultural resources we value so much as Californians.”

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said: “I believe that a clean energy future is within our grasp in the United States, but it will take all of us and the best-available science to make it happen. Today’s announcement reflects months of active engagement and dedication between partners who are committed to advancing a clean energy future. The offshore wind industry has the potential to create tens of thousands of good-paying union jobs across the nation, while combating the negative effects of climate change. Interior is proud to be part of an all-of-government approach toward the Biden-Harris Administration’s ambitious renewable energy goals.”

Under Secretary for Defense Policy Dr. Colin Kahl said: “Tacking the climate crisis is a national security imperative and the Defense Department is proud to have played a role in this important effort. The Defense Department is committed to working across the U.S. government to find solutions that support renewable energy in a manner compatible with t essential military operations. Throughout this effort, the Defense Department has worked tirelessly with the White House, the Department of the Interior, and the State of California to find solutions that enable offshore wind development while ensuring long-term protection for testing, training, and operations critical to our military readiness. The Defense Department applauds this step and looks forward to continued coordination to address the climate crisis.”


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