California: first floating offshore wind leases

California organized, via the BOEM (Bureau of Ocean Energy Management), a federal auction of offshore wind leases.

California organized, via the BOEM (Bureau of Ocean Energy Management), a federal auction of offshore wind leases.

An expected sale

California announces receipt of competitive bids from five companies. The total amount is $757.1 million, exceeding the first lease sales in the Atlantic region. The sale proposes five areas off the California coast with an estimated 4.6GW of wind power generation.

California Governor Gavin Newsom states:

“Offshore wind is a critical component to achieving our global clean energy goals and this sale is a historic step in California’s march toward a fossil fuel-free future. With the leadership of the Biden-Harris administration, we are entering a new era of climate action and solutions that give our planet a new lease on life.”

The California Energy Commission sets a preliminary target of up to 5GW of offshore wind by 2030 and 25GW by 2045. The State of California welcomes the creation of this supply chain and its economic impact on local people.

The auction included 31 rounds of bidding. It had two areas off Humboldt Bay and three areas near Morro Bay. Invenergy California Offshore and Central California Offshore Wind won the largest lease areas of 80,418 acres each.

A growing market

Invenergy California Offshore invested $145.3 million and Central California Offshore Wind $150.3 million. In addition, Equinor Wind US invested $130 million. Equinor Wind’s U.S. president, Molly Morris, says:

“We are excited to have the opportunity to explore the potential for even more renewable energy for the United States, this time in the Pacific Ocean. The U.S. West Coast is one of the most attractive growth regions for floating offshore wind in the world because of its favorable wind conditions and proximity to markets that need reliable, clean energy.”

In addition, one parcel was owned by California North Floating for $173.8 million. RWE Offshore Wind Holdings won a 63,338-acre parcel for $157.7 million. Sven Utermöhlen, CEO Offshore Wind of RWE Renewables, says:

“Our success in California is a significant milestone, RWE’s first ever commercial-scale floating offshore wind project. We will apply our knowledge and experience of floating wind in California and continue to develop the market for future projects.”

The depth off California is deep and makes floating offshore wind technology mandatory unlike the East Coast. Thus, the United States is positioning itself to develop its deepwater wind resources. In addition, the country aims to become a global hub for floating wind innovation.

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