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California ports support floating offshore wind development

The State of California is developing regulatory strategies to support the development of two offshore floating wind farms planned for Northern and Central California. California’s ports will be providing infrastructure and supply chain support.

Karen Douglas, Senior Advisor Energy, with the Office of California Governor Newsom and Courtney Vaccaro, Commissioner, California Energy Commission discussed the impact of California Assembly Bill 525 that requires the California Energy Commission to create 2030 and 2045 goals for offshore wind power.

The presentations were made at the Pacific Offshore Wind Summit held in San Francisco on March 29th.

Experiences from the oil and gas industry have helped develop designs for floating wind turbines which will be deployed off the coast of California because of its deep offshore seabed that will require floating turbines be anchored to the ocean floor.

Knut Aanstad, Vice President of U.S. and Americas, Equinor ASA, David Anderson, Senior Vice President for Renewables Growth, BP and James Cotter, Vice President, Offshore Wind Americas, Shell New Energies U.S. discussed how oil and gas experiences were helping to developing floating wind turbines.

Aanstad said the floating turbines were “a proven technology” that could be deployed off the coast of California.

In 2017, Equinor opened the first full-scale floating offshore wind farm, Hywind Scotland which generates 30MW of wind power.

Paula Major, Vice President, U.S. Offshore Wind, Mainstream Renewable Power said she was “hopeful” that the first offshore wind turbines would be deployed off the California coast in 2030.

Patricia DiOrio heads the North American Offshore Project Development for Orsted. She said that “stakeholder involvement needs to occur early on” in the project development process.

She added that wind port development needed to be supported by ports and that the supply chain will require “training and pre-training.”

Ørsted operates the Block Island Wind Farm, off the coast of Rhode Island, America’s first offshore wind farm,

Arne Jacobson, Director, Schatz Energy Research Center, said that developing transmission capacity was another critical priority and this was complicated by the deep sea depths of the Pacific Ocean that the floating wind turbines would be anchored in.

Matt Arms, Director, Environmental Planning, Port of Long Beach, John Burns, CEO, Oregon International Port Coos Bay, Kristin Decas, CEO and Port Director, The Port of Hueneme and Larry Oetker, Executive Director, Humboldt Bay Harbor District emphasized the importance of ports in supporting offshore wind development.

On May 14th, Governor Gavin Newsom committed $20 million in California’s proposed FY 2021-22 budget as a down payment to spur offshore wind power.

Of this allocation, $11 million is earmarked as a match for $55 million U.S. Department of Transportation funds that will fund the offshore wind facility at Humboldt Bay. The total grant is $66 million.

Oetker, told AJOT: “This is a game-changer for Humboldt Bay. After we lost a lot of our timber business in the 1990s, we also lost a lot of our maritime business. This will change with the offshore wind port…We are very grateful to the Biden Administration and to Governor Newsom.”

Oetker said that the environmental reviews for permitting the wind farms off Humboldt Bay will take 3-4 years and so a similar timeline is expected for the construction of the new port.

As part of the initial phase of the project, the existing 6-acre Redwood Marine Terminal would be completely replaced with a new modern heavy-lift terminal, and eel grass and other impacts would be mitigated, Oetker said.

Burns noted that the Port of Coos Bay has extensive land to support a wind farm port and Decas said that the Port of Hueneme has extensive inland warehousing near the Port that could support wind farm development.

Matt Arms said the Port of Long Beach was interested in supporting wind farm development but was constrained by its container terminal operations.

Several participants noted the success of the New Jersey Wind Port.

The facility located in Salem County broke ground in September 2021.

According to a Salem County report, the Wind Port will provide a location for essential staging, assembly, and manufacturing activities related to offshore wind projects on the East Coast. At full build-out, the Wind Port has the potential to create up to 1,500 manufacturing, assembly, and operations jobs, and drive billions of dollars in economic growth.

The port will be an assembly point for the windmill towers, which also includes its rotors, nacelles, and blades. The finished structures are transported upright and are too heavy and tall for land transport. This was one reason the site located at the mouth of the Delaware Bay.

The wind port also recently announced it had received offers for leases from six of the largest turbine manufacturers and offshore wind developers in the world.

Getting the 900-foot wind turbines out to sea presents another challenge, the report said.

Philly Shipyard, a shipbuilder located nearby on the Delaware River has been awarded a contract to build up to two ships to support the transport of wind turbines out to sea.

Adam Stern, Executive Director, Offshore Wind California, the summit organizer said that participation in the event “succeeded beyond our expectations.”

Stas Margaronis
Stas Margaronis

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