A floating offshore wind industry in California could dramatically increase in-state renewable energy generation and support thousands of new jobs, according to “The California Offshore Wind Project: A Vision for Industry Growth,” a new report from the American Jobs Project in partnership with the Schatz Energy Research Center at Humboldt State University, Pacific Ocean Energy Trust, and BVG Associates.
With deep waters and some of the highest wind speeds in the country, the Golden State has 112 GW of technical offshore wind resource potential, meaning it has the potential to produce 1.5 times as much electricity as California uses in one year, according to the report.
Based on research and stakeholder outreach, the report finds that California’s offshore wind industry could support over 17,500 jobs in 2045. This figure includes direct jobs from manufacturing and software development, indirect jobs from suppliers, and induced jobs from spending in the local economy.
The report notes that floating offshore wind turbines are a “natural choice” for California, given its “unique ocean topography.” Nearly 95% of the state’s available offshore wind resources are in waters deeper than 60 meters, which cannot support turbines with fixed-bottom foundations, according to the report.
“Offshore wind can spur a new wave of innovation in California that will support our climate goals,” says Mary Collins, managing director of the American Jobs Project and lead author of the report. “But in order to take full advantage of this important source of clean energy, California needs a coordinated state vision to create opportunities for workers and businesses and protect our environmental values.”
The report provides short- and long-term strategies for spurring California’s offshore wind industry:
- Setting a market acceleration target and establishing a comprehensive approach to offshore wind studies to guide early development, survey potential impacts on coastal ecosystems, consider innovative financing mechanisms and reduce red tape;
- Establishing a phased approach to offshore wind workforce development to build a diverse and inclusive workforce, formalize partnerships between industry and training providers, and invest in offshore wind safety training;
- Aligning innovation and access to capital policies with industry needs and promoting offshore wind research collaboration, knowledge exchange and business development;
- Upgrading ports and establishing port innovation districts to support evolving technology and workforce needs; and
- Appointing a California offshore wind czar to coordinate activities among state agencies, foster community programs, advocate for procedural changes in the federal leasing process, build international relationships for knowledge exchange, and capture foreign direct-investment opportunities.
In 2018, policymakers set California on a path to 100% clean energy by 2045 through the passage of S.B.100. The report says offshore wind can help California achieve a resilient, secure and carbon-free energy future by improving grid stability and operational efficiency, tapping into rapidly decreasing costs and growing demand for the technology, and harnessing the state’s vast natural resources. In addition, good-paying jobs in offshore wind could be filled by workers transitioning from the fossil fuel sector.
“California’s coast offers some of the highest wind resource potential in the country, and offshore wind could produce more than 1.5 times the electricity the state currently uses in one year,” says Arne Jacobson, director of the Schatz Energy Research Center. “This report provides useful guidance to policymakers and stakeholders for the effort to develop this important source of renewable energy in a way that respects our vibrant coastal ecosystem and maximizes benefits to the local economy.”
More on the report can be found here.