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The California Energy Commission (CEC) has adopted an offshore wind strategic plan to guide the development of offshore wind energy in the state.

CEC

The plan outlines analyses and strategies for deploying floating turbines off the central and northern coast of California with a planning goal of reaching 25 GW of capacity by 2045, enough to power 25 million homes.

“The adoption of this comprehensive strategic plan for offshore wind development represents another important milestone on California’s path to a 100 percent clean energy future,” said the CEC Chairman David Hochschild.

“Offshore wind energy has the potential to accelerate the energy transition by providing a consistent, reliable source of clean electricity, supporting our ambitious climate goals, creating local manufacturing jobs, and driving economic development. We are committed to leveraging this clean resource to ensure a sustainable energy future for all Californians.”

California's power grid is powered by nearly 35 GW of renewable energy today, but to reach its 2045 goal, the state will need an additional 14 GW, which will likely require developing land and ocean space in many regions of the state.

Offshore wind is notable for its potential to generate enormous amounts of electricity thanks to the strong, consistent winds off the coast of California, CEC said. In addition, offshore wind can generate electricity even when solar energy declines, such as at night and in the winter, providing a complementary power generation profile to the state's renewable energy portfolio.

According to CEC, offshore wind development will bring significant economic benefits to California. A recent study predicts the creation of more than 8,000 jobs during the peak of offshore wind development, many of which will be unionized and provide stable, well-paying employment opportunities.

“With our plans to develop offshore wind energy in California, we are not only investing in renewable energy, but also in the future of our state's economy. Offshore wind energy will create thousands of new jobs for Californians, from manufacturing to maintenance, and build a robust supply chain to support this growing industry,” said Dee Dee MyersSenior Advisor to Governor Gavin Newsom and Director of the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz).

“Our commitment to offshore wind energy will deliver sustainable growth, reduce our carbon footprint and ensure a cleaner, better future for all Californians.”

The plan is intended to underscore a commitment to responsible development that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and pollution impacts on the climate, communities, public health and the environment, and minimizes impacts on California Native American tribes, marine users and marine wildlife.

Off the coast of California, floating wind energy technology was chosen because it is particularly suitable for deep waters and offers several advantages, including access to stronger and more consistent wind resources further offshore and less environmental disturbance to the seabed.

What's next?

Following adoption of the Strategic Plan, CEC and its partner agencies will advance the Strategic Plan by continuing discussions and consultations with tribal governments, underserved communities, fisheries, industry, marine users, environmental and environmental justice groups, and federal, state, and local agencies, and by advancing and examining the recommendations and strategies developed in the Strategic Plan.

This strategic plan is the fourth and final work product that the CEC was required to produce under U.S. Assembly Bill 525 in consultation with federal, state and local agencies, tribal governments, and a wide variety of stakeholders.

It includes and expands on three previous requirements of AB 525: setting planning targets of 2 to 5 GW by 2030 and 25 GW by 2045, a preliminary assessment of the economic benefits of offshore wind energy in terms of port investment and job development, and a conceptual permitting roadmap.

California's AB 525, passed in 2021, directed the CEC to set offshore wind targets for 2030 and 2045. In 2022, the commission set a goal of generating 25 GW of offshore wind energy by 2045. It also directed the commission to develop the strategic plan released last month with a goal of using offshore wind to achieve 100 percent clean energy by 2045.


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