ORIGINAL REPORTING: California moves ahead on offshore wind development
Developers see value in California offshore wind development; A task force decision by regulators could open the door to west coast development.
Herman K. Trabish, Sept. 10, 2018 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Since this story ran, BOEM approved plans to open ocean tracts off California’s coast to pilot wind projects.
State mandates and contractual commitments promise to make offshore wind a key part of the East Coast power mix by the mid-2020s. But offshore wind is not limited to the East. A Sept. 17 meeting of a federal-state Energy Task Force cleared federal permitting obstacles, opening the door to thousands of California coastal wind MWs and the pioneering of floating turbine technology. The current administration sees wind energy as "affordable and reliable," Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Chief of Staff Alex Fitzsimmons told Utility Dive. And because of its high capacity factors, offshore wind "has the potential to contribute to reliability," he added. "It is a critical resource for the future." On Sept. 17, federal regulators approved the first steps toward allowing developers to build off California’s coast and bring prices down enough to begin harvesting wind, just when it will be needed the most.
Offshore wind has taken on greater significance since the Aug. 29 passage of California's Senate Bill 100, which targets 100% renewables for the state by 2045. California is only at 30% renewables now, despite being the national leader in utility-scale solar and distributed solar capacities and fourth in the nation in wind capacity. Offshore wind could be the needed boost. California's highest peak summer load projection for 2018 was just under 52 GW, according to its grid operator. The state's gross offshore wind resource capacity is 1,698 GW, and six small areas outside existing "use exclusions" have a technical offshore wind resource capacity of 112 GW, according to a 2017 presentation to the Task Force by National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Research Scientist, Walt Musial. Whatever portion of that potential policymakers and stakeholders agree can be harvested would certainly help the state reach its renewables target… click here for more
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