As the offshore renewable industry continues to develop and grow, the capabilities of established port facilities on the Pacific west coast of the United States (U.S.) and the Hawaiian islands of Oahu, Maui, and Kauai need to be assessed as to their ability to support the expanding offshore floating wind (OFW) and marine hydrokinetic industries (MHK). The Pacific Coast is characterized by rapidly increasing water depths that exceed the feasible limits of fixed platforms on the outer continental shelf ( OCS) making the west coast more suitable to floating wind technology. This study shall assess current infrastructure requirements and projected changes to port facilities that may be required to support the OFW and MHK industry for Pacific west coast harbors and ports. The assessment of the infrastructure and available support facilities, vessels, and equipment necessary to support offshore renewable energy activities will aid in the environmental reviews and evaluations that will be required of future projects. Information obtained from this study and identified in this report will aid in the development of mitigation measures designed and initiated to minimize effects from offshore renewable energy activities to ensure environmentally safe and sound operations. Understanding the infrastructure needs of the offshore renewable industry will help to identify the port-related requirements for OFW and MHK development and assess the utilization of the available marine equipment and facilities along the U.S. West Coast.
The capabilities of established port facilities to support OFW and MHK are assessed in this study by evaluation of the following objectives:
- Vessel Requirements and Characteristics of OFW and MHK
- Assessment of Infrastructure Needs on the Pacific West Coast and Hawaii to Support OFW and MHK
- Inventory of Pacific West Coast and Hawaii Candidate Port Facilities and Characteristics
Findings of these objectives are described in the following chapters and are used to identify harbor and port facilities on the Pacific West Coast and islands of Hawaii that currently have capabilities, or can potentially have the capability with infrastructure improvements, to support large-scale (i.e., 30+ devices) OFW and MHK development. The capabilities of existing port infrastructure to support smaller demonstration-scale (i.e., 1-5) OFW and MHK projects are also included in this report.
The OFW and MHK industries are both in early stages of development, with no floating large-scale offshore energy farms yet deployed globally. The offshore wind energy market in Europe is well developed, but currently relies on shallower water, fixed foundation, installations. Small-scale OFW and MHK projects have been demonstrated and have generated electricity, but are not yet installed on a large commercial scale in the U.S. or elsewhere. Therefore, there is no existing industry to directly base evaluation criteria on for this study and instead, criteria must be developed based on existing information, similar industries, and assumed device characteristics.
To establish parameters for the study and to describe evaluation criteria developed in lieu of existing industry, the Basis of Analysis is presented in Chapter 2. The basis of analysis describes the energy device technologies included in the study, the geographic region of study, and study assumptions. The basis of analysis was initially developed as a separate document, and due to the dynamic nature of a nascent industry it was continually refined as the study progressed. The evaluation criteria described in Chapter 2 establish different criteria dependent on the different functions port may provide to support OFW and MHK development.
Ports were classified into the following categories based on available port, vessel, supply chain and assembly criteria presented in Chapter 2:
- Ports suitable for device assembly
- Ports suitable for device fabrication and construction facilities
- Quick Reaction Ports (located within 2 hours by vessel of a potential installation site)
The remaining chapters asses vessel and port infrastructure and develop findings for the study objectives. Vessel requirements to support OFW and MHK are assessed in Chapter 3. Findings related to estimated fleet requirements for the OFW and MHK technologies developed in turn support development of port facility infrastructure needs by establishing the vessels required to be accommodated by ports. Navigation requirements, port facility infrastructure, and supply chain characteristics of ports likely able to support OFW and MHK are described in Chapter 4. These requirements are based on review of the estimated vessel fleet, characteristics of offshore wind port facilities in Europe, literature review of potential requirements for fixed foundation offshore wind farms in the U.S., and other guidelines.
Information on existing and potential port characteristics was collected during the course of the study and results of this data collection effort are included in database format within this report, as well as narratives to capture non-quantitative aspects from the ports that may affect assessments. The information collected and presented in this study are not comprehensive, but include the information necessary to assess the capability of each port to potentially support OFW or MHK development. In Chapter 5, the ports in the study area are pre-screened into different classifications of providing potential port functions for further investigation, based on select information in the port database and several preliminary key navigation and facility characteristics developed for screening the ports. Results of this analysis aid in focusing an assessment of refined port navigation and facility characteristics in Chapter 6.
In Chapter 6, the ports are assessed against port facility, navigation, and supply chain criteria for different potential technologies and functions to support the industries, according to the classifications assigned in the pre-screening analysis. It is difficult to establish that ports can or cannot support specific OFW or MHK technologies in the near future because installation technology of these industries is still in development to improve the economics of installation globally. The study can therefore only assess port capabilities relative to existing proven technology. Based on existing technology, this study presents assessments of ports following a conceptual-level scoring matrix, relative to technology and function specific criteria. The scoring matrix is intended to estimate the relative levels of investment to support commercial-scale OFW and MHK, for existing installation technology. Results of port assessments are presented by region. Chapter 7 presents the conclusions and recommendations for the interpretation of port facilities to support the OFW and MHK industries on the Pacific West Coast and Hawaii.