Hopes mount in California for Biden’s go ahead on first lease sale in 2021

California’s offshore wind sector remains optimistic that the incoming Biden administration will clear the way for long-awaited commercial lease auctions along the state’s north and central coasts. This comes hot on the heels of Biden’s promise to boost clean energy development in his first term to meet the ambitious climate goals set by his administration.

Biden’s tenure as a senator saw him among the first lawmakers in Congress that 15 years ago supported the 200MW Bluewater Wind project in his home state of Delaware.

With Californian state and incoming national policymakers on what appears to be the same page, new challenges will present themselves such as deciding where the commercial offshore development will take place. Due to Californias unique geography, unlike most of the East coast, the outer continental shelf quickly drops off to deep waters that require the use of floating platform technology.

Combining this unique geographical challenge with public consensus strongly favouring preserving the state’s iconic Pacific Ocean views means that anchorage will have to be far from shore, where the turbines can present interference for the US military’s naval activities, according to the Department of Defense.

Currently three “call areas” have been proposed by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management: Diablo Canyon, Morro Bay and Humboldt. In 2018, 44 nominations of interest from project developers in the US and Europe were drawn.

For the last 19 months, BOEM has worked closely with state and federal agencies in discussions with the DoD to come to an agreement on an area along the central coast that could support the 3-5GW of capacity required to kickstart the industry there.

The economic and grid operational benefits that an initial 10GW of offshore wind capacity would provide to California, which has committed to transitioning to cleaner forms of energy by transitioning away from fossil fuels and closing the Diablo Canyon Nuclear power plant in 2025, it’s last one currently in operation.