Canopy Offshore Wind Power Project off the Coast of Northern California

Survey work will inform safe, responsible project design. RWE has selected Argeo to lead survey work with sophisticated, proven technology including an autonomous underwater vehicle. Geo SubSea, Coastal 35, and Smultea Sciences to provide and train Protected Species Observers (PSOs) on Canopy survey vessels.

RWE today announced the upcoming start of the site investigation survey work for its Canopy Offshore Wind Farm (Canopy) project off the coast of Northern California. This is a key milestone in the development of RWE’s first commercial scale floating offshore wind farm. The planned 1.6 GW project has the potential to power 640,000 homes with clean offshore wind energy. Utilizing state-of-the-art technology, RWE’s Canopy project will gather data about the federal lease area and the area between the lease and shore in federal waters.

“Surveying is an important step on the path toward developing Canopy Offshore Wind and helping provide clean energy that meets California’s ambitious climate goals,” said Sam Eaton, CEO of RWE Offshore Wind Holdings. “RWE is committed to responsible, inclusive development by engaging Humboldt residents, Tribal Nations, and working closely with the fishing community as we begin offshore activities on the project.” 

Deploying State-of-the-Art Technology

RWE has selected Argeo, a subsea service provider that has supported development of clean energy projects around the world, to perform the site investigation work for Canopy. 

“Argeo is pleased to partner with RWE on their first commercial scale floating offshore wind project. We will conduct subsea surveying utilizing proven, state-of-the-art technology,” said Dave Gentle, Vice President for North and South America at Argeo. “With extensive experience in ocean surveying, Argeo is well-equipped to deliver comprehensive and detailed site information. We look forward to working with RWE on this significant initiative.” Due to the water depths in the lease area off the Pacific Coast of the U.S., Argeo will utilize an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) to conduct the surveys. The use of an AUV as the survey platform during this initial site characterization effort will enable high-quality data collection close to the seafloor, including photographs of biological communities. 

Commercial AUVs have been used since the 2000s and are a proven method for geophysical and biological data collection with minimal environmental and ocean user impacts. They are battery-powered and can stay below the sea surface for extended periods of time, which reduces overall survey time and emissions. The use of AUVs as survey platforms significantly reduces the potential for entanglement of fishing gear as they are not towed equipment. 

RWE is committed to developing offshore wind projects safely and sustainably, prioritizing healthy biodiversity and marine life. The sensors carried by the AUV operate at safe sound levels and meet California low energy equipment requirements for geophysical surveys that are in place to minimize impacts to marine mammals and other wildlife.

Ensuring Safe Operations for Marine Wildlife

In compliance with U.S. permitting requirements and to ensure the project is developed in a responsible and safe manner, Canopy survey work will utilize certified, independent, Protected Species Observers (PSOs) on survey vessels on duty 24 hours a day to detect and avoid marine mammals during survey activities and to collect visual observation data on marine wildlife.

RWE has selected Geo SubSea and Coastal 35 Consulting to provide PSOs on survey vessels and Smultea Sciences to deliver PSO training to Tribal citizens and Humboldt County community members to increase the involvement and workforce opportunities for individuals who possess local and Indigenous knowledge of the area during the site investigation campaign. 

Canopy plans to conduct initial site investigation surveys during 2024 and 2025, with the first activities beginning this month. By comprehensively ‘mapping’ the seafloor, the project will begin to assess the best locations for installing wind turbines, anchors and electric cables and better understand biodiversity, habitats, and other environmental factors to ensure responsible planning and design that minimizes the impact on ocean ecosystems. 

In April, Smultea Sciences, a Women-Owned Small Business headquartered on the U.S. West Coast, successfully trained 19 members of the local Humboldt and Tribal communities as Protected Species Observers. Several graduates of this program subsequently participated in Global Wind Organization safety training. This training qualifies PSOs to work on Canopy or on other marine projects nationwide.

Cooperation and Coordination with Local Fishing Industry 

Additionally, Canopy is working closely with partners in the fishing and maritime industries to communicate its survey plans and water activities. Early conversations with the local fishing industry resulted in Canopy survey planning intended to avoid and minimize the potential for activity overlap, with activities sequenced in different areas during varying fishing seasons. RWE is sending local commercial fishermen to Global Wind Organization safety training and local commercial fishermen identified by the area’s fishing industry will serve as an Onboard Fisheries Liaison (OFL) on the survey vessel to manage at-sea communication and coordination with the fishing fleet during survey activities.  

About Canopy Offshore Wind Farm & RWE 

In a 2022 federal offshore lease auction, RWE secured the right to develop an estimated 1.6 GW project approximately 20 miles off the coast of Humboldt County. This project will be one of the first commercial scale floating offshore wind farms that will deliver clean, sustainable power and help position the North Coast as a hub for the floating offshore wind industry on the West Coast. 

A pioneer of floating technology and one of the world’s leading and most experienced offshore wind companies, RWE is active across the entire value chain, from project conception to development, design, construction, operation and maintenance and decommissioning. Working collaboratively with industry partners and local institutions, RWE’s experience will help Humboldt transform into an offshore wind energy hub while protecting the area’s coastline and ocean ecosystem. Through ongoing, extensive conversations with the state and federal governments, constituents, Tribal Nations and fishermen, the RWE Canopy team will ensure this critical project is developed in a responsible, equitable manner.

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