The Biden administration and Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday declared the northern and central coasts of California available for offshore wind power, aiming to bring up to 4.6 gigawatts of clean energy to the grid by 2030, or enough to power 1.6 million homes.
In all, the White House wants to bring 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power online nationwide by the start of the next decade.
Tuesday’s California announcement comes after lengthy discussion between the Interior and Defense departments to find areas offshore that are compatible with military training and testing operations, the White House said.
The first leg of the project will support three gigawatts of offshore wind on roughly 399 square miles off California’s central coast region, northwest of Morro Bay.
Because the outer continental shelf falls away more quickly into much deeper waters in the Pacific than in the Atlantic Ocean, new floating offshore wind technology will be deployed in offshore California waters. The effort tapped more than $100 million for researching, developing and demonstrating floating offshore wind technology by the Energy Department.
These investments have helped position the U.S. as a leader in the emerging
global floating offshore wind market, the White House asserted.
“The offshore wind industry has the potential to create tens of thousands of good-paying union jobs across the nation, while combating the negative effects of
climate change,” said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland in announcing the California approval. “Interior is proud to be part of an all-of-government approach toward the Biden-Harris administration’s ambitious renewable energy goals.”
Biden’s clean-energy efforts have received some pushback from political opponents and others who wonder if the reliance so far on imported technology means that the White House can adequately track fair labor practices abroad, or that U.S. jobs can ramp up fast enough to meet Biden’s goals.
The White House said earlier this year it wants to fast-track leasing for wind turbines in federal waters.
At that time, the administration said meeting its 2030 target for 30 gigawatts would create more infrastructure. That would include new port upgrade investments totaling more than $500 million, as well as one to two new U.S. factories for each major windfarm component including wind turbine nacelles, blades, towers, foundations and subsea cables.
What’s more, the administration said meeting the target would create additional cumulative demand of more than 7 million tons of steel — equivalent to four years of output for a typical U.S. steel mill. The plan would also spur the construction of four to six specialized turbine installation vessels in U.S. shipyards, each representing an investment between $250 million and $500 million, the White House says.
Already, a high-profile effort, the Vineyard Wind project, south of Martha’s Vineyard near Cape Cod, in Massachusetts has been approved to proceed. The project calls for up to 84 turbines to be installed in the Atlantic Ocean about 12 nautical miles off the coast. Together, they could generate about 800 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 400,000 homes.
The New York and New Jersey coasts are also seen as a priority for wind-power interests and state officials.
The iShares Global Clean Energy ETF ICLN, -0.27% is trading down 19% in the year to date, shaving off some of its 98% one-year total return.
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