As part of President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan to develop clean energy sources and cut carbon pollution, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Abigail Ross Hopper has announced that the department is issuing a request for interest (RFI) in a lease area requested by Trident Winds LLC for its proposed 765 MW floating wind energy project, offshore Morro Bay, Calif.
“This announcement represents a significant step in facilitating the responsible development of offshore renewable energy to help California meet its energy needs,” says Hopper. “We are working closely with the state of California, industry and a broad range of stakeholders to ensure that planning for future commercial wind leasing is done in a transparent manner that engages stakeholders throughout the process.”
In consultation with the state of California, BOEM has determined Trident Winds LLC is qualified to hold an Outer Continental Shelf lease and now must determine whether it is appropriate to issue the company a lease on a noncompetitive basis or if a competitive process is required.
According to BOEM, the proposed project would consist of 100 floating foundations, each supporting a wind turbine generating 7 MW-8 MW of energy. A single transmission cable would bring the electricity to shore. The proposed lease area, about 33 nautical miles northwest of Morro Bay, covers 67,963 acres of federal lands in water depths of 2,600-3,300 feet.
California Energy Commissioner David Hochschild says that wind power will play an increasingly important role as California moves to meet 50% of its energy needs with renewable energy by 2030.
According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, areas off the U.S. West Coast and Hawaii could generate 1.5 TW of offshore wind energy – enough to power more than 500 million homes.
If there is competitive interest, BOEM will initiate the competitive leasing process; if no expressions of interest are received, BOEM will proceed with the noncompetitive leasing process. BOEM says it will publish a Potential Commercial Leasing for Wind Power on the Outer Continental Shelf Offshore California RFI in the Federal Register on Aug. 17. The notice includes a 30-day public comment period.
To date, BOEM’s offshore renewable energy program has awarded 11 commercial wind energy leases off the Atlantic coast. Nine of those leases were issued as a result of competitive lease sales that generated about $16 million in winning bids for more than 1 million acres. Last week, the department announced a proposed lease sale for 122,405 acres offshore North Carolina for commercial wind energy leasing, and in June, it announced a proposal to hold a competitive lease sale for an area offshore New York later this year.