The US will hold the nation’s first lease auction for commercial-scale floating wind power today.
The five deepwater lease tranches in two areas about 25 miles off the California coast have the potential to generate 4.5 GW of electricity, enough to power 1.5 million homes. Global interest in lease sales is strong with 43 companies approved to bid.
The cost of offshore wind has fallen in recent years and floating offshore wind, while new to the US, has been deployed in Europe. The Biden administration has set goals of 15 GW of floating wind capacity by 2035.
“There are a lot of opportunities, but also some challenges,” said Habib Dagher, executive director of the Center for Advanced Structures and Composites at the University of Maine, who is helping develop the first floating offshore wind turbines in the US.
“California has deeper water than any other area with these floating wind turbines in the world so far,” he said. “How do you protect the environment, protect local stakeholders, protect fisheries, protect indigenous communities, and at the same time speed up permitting to make a difference to global climate change? ”
Unlike today’s offshore wind turbines set on the ocean floor off the East Coast, California’s first wind turbines would float on platforms anchored by cables in water about half a mile deep.