PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Tuesday is the first U.S. auction for a lease to develop a commercial-scale floating wind farm in the deep waters off the West Coast.
A live online auction of five leases (three off California’s central coast and two off the north coast) has generated strong interest, with 43 companies worldwide having been approved to bid. The wind turbines will float about 25 miles offshore.
As climate change intensifies and the need for clean energy increases, so does the growth of offshore wind power. It’s also cheaper.Offshore wind development costs have fallen by 60% since 2010 According to a July report According to the International Renewable Energy Agency. 13% decrease in 2021 alone.
Offshore wind is well established in the UK and a few other countries, but is just starting to launch off the US coast, making it the country’s first foray into floating wind turbines. Previous auctions were for items anchored to the sea floor.
Europe has floating offshore wind turbines, and a project in the North Sea has been operational since 2017, but the potential for this technology is huge in the high wind regions of the US coast, says American Clean Power offshore wind farms. said Josh Kaplowitz, vice president of operations. Association.
“We know this works. We know this can provide a large portion of our electricity needs. If we’re going to solve the climate crisis, especially the increasing load demand of electric vehicles. Given that, we need to get as many clean electronics online as possible,” he said. “We need to use offshore wind power as part of the puzzle to meet our greenhouse gas targets.”
A similar auction will take place off the coast of Oregon next year and in the Gulf of Maine in 2024. President Joe Biden sets goals Using conventional technology to anchor wind turbines to the sea bed, it plans to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind farms by 2030, enough to power 10 million homes.Later, the government announced Schedule for September Developing a floating platform that could significantly expand US offshore wind power.
The nation’s first offshore wind farm opened off the coast of Rhode Island in late 2016, allowing residents of tiny Block Island to shut down five diesel generators. Wind advocates have taken note, but with five turbines on his, it’s not commercial scale.
As of 2021, there were only 123 megawatts of floating offshore wind in operation globally, but that number is projected to grow to around 19 gigawatts (more than 150-fold) by 2030. according to reports last week at offshore wind california.
The California sale is intended to facilitate domestic supply chains and create union jobs. Bidders can convert a portion of their bids into credits that benefit communities, tribes, fishermen, and others affected by wind development.
As envisioned, the turbine, perhaps about the height of the Eiffel Tower, floats on a giant triangular platform about the size of a small city block or a buoyant cylinder, with cables anchored in the water. They each have three blades longer than the home plate-to-outfield distance of a baseball diamond, and must be assembled on land and towed upright to their destination in the open ocean.
Modern tall turbines, whether onshore or offshore, can generate 20 times more power than, say, a short machine in the early 1990s.
As for visibility, “In absolutely perfect conditions, on the best days, with crystal clear clarity, and at the highest point, you might see a small dot on the horizon,” said Humboldt Bay Port, Executive Director of Conservation and Recreation. One Larry Oetker said. A district preparing a deep-sea port for the project.
Offshore wind power is a good way to supplement solar energy that shuts down at night. Jim Burger, a partner at Norton Rose Fulbright, a law firm that specializes in financing renewable energy projects, said winds farther out to sea are stronger and more persistent, and solar power is shutting down. Nonetheless, he said demand will also intensify in the evenings when demand is high.
California has a goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2045. But “as the sun goes down, we become more dependent on fossil fuel power generation,” says Berger. “These projects are huge, so adding one or more of them will significantly increase the power generation base in the state,” he said.
The lease area could generate 4.5 gigawatts of energy, enough for 1.5 million homes, which could make a big difference to rural coastal communities closest to the lease area.
In remote Humboldt County in northern California, offshore projects have created more than 4,000,000 jobs and $38 million in state and local revenues in an economically depressed area since the decline of the lumber industry in the 1970s and 1980s. It is expected that tax revenue will be generated. , according to the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Conservation and Recreation Area.
The district has already received $12 million from California to prepare the deepwater port for the potential assembly of large turbines. These turbines are too tall to fit under most bridges and are being towed out to sea, said Oetker, the district’s executive director.
“There are hundreds of acres of vacant land on the existing shipping lanes that are underutilized, and there are no fictitious bridges or power lines,” he said.
But despite their support for the move to clean energy, some are cautious about the project.
Environmentalists are concerned about the impact on endangered whales, which may become entangled in the cables that hold the turbines in place. There are also concerns about birds and bats hitting turbine blades, and whales hitting ships towing components to the site. Federal regulators have set a speed limit for the project’s boats at less than 12 mph to address that concern, said Kristen Hislop, senior director of the Marine Programs at the Center for Environmental Defense.
“Floating offshore wind is completely new, there are only a few projects in the world, and we don’t know how it will affect our coasts,” she said.
Tribes living in vast coastal areas also worry about damage to ancestral lands from turbine assembly plants and power transmission infrastructure. They fear that on a clear day the farm can be seen from the sacred place of prayer high in the mountains.
Yurok’s vice president, Frankie Myers, has attended four wind developer conferences in the past year. The tribe secured a 5% bid credit for the first time, including tribal communities, by working with the Marine Energy Administration, which oversees the leasing process, he said. The agency also assisted with a cultural assessment of potential effects on views from sacred places of prayer, he said.
The tribes are very involved early on now, as they are accustomed to external industries that come to them with unfulfilled promises. They’ve seen things done wrong, and knowing this windswept area well, they want this done right, he said.
“Even before they showed us the map, before they showed us the breakdown of everything, we thought, ‘I know exactly where we’re going. “There’s no question where the best winds come from. We all know that. We’ve been here for thousands of years.”
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