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California's Offshore Wind Power Faces Hurdles

2023 Oct 18, 9:39, SACRAMENTO, the United States

The U.S. state of California, the nation's leader in deploying clean energy, faces challenges of developing offshore wind farms to achieve its ambitious climate goals.

According to the California Energy Commission's report, the state has passed laws that require 90 percent of its electricity to come from clean energy resources by 2035 and planned to produce 25 gigawatts of electrical power from offshore wind farms by 2045, which is enough to meet the electricity demand of about 25 million average homes.

However, the fledgling technology of constructing offshore wind farms poses engineering, financial, and environmental challenges to developers, who must harness the strong and consistent winds above deep waters off the Californian coast.

The wind turbines have to be erected on floating platforms tethered to the ocean bottom far from shore where the waters are too deep to construct traditional fixed structures.

So far, there are no other floating wind operations in such deep waters and at such a scale as in California.

According to a 2022 report by the U.S. Department of Energy, only a handful of floating wind projects are operating in the world, totaling 123 megawatts, and only four projects are under construction, representing around 125 megawatts.

Meanwhile, the impact on wildlife by the floating projects might be "significant," said the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in its comment to the State Lands Commission.

Some conservation and fishing groups have raised concerns about the impact of the cables connecting floating turbines and the ocean floor, which could generate sound pollution and interfere with marine life such as whales sending and receiving sounds.

Five companies have won leases to build the nation's first massive floating wind farms in California's coastal waters. The companies said they would need hundreds of millions of dollars in state subsidies or government bonds to assist with the costs of construction and operation.

Millions of dollars of public funds are expected to be invested in upgrading ports and supporting facilities for assembling platforms, maintaining service fleets, and repairing yards. 


Clean Energy wind farms climate goals California Energy Commission U.S. Department of Energy
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