California’s oceans hold energy resources that could contribute to meeting the renewable energy and low carbon energy goals outlined in Senate Bill 100. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has identified that California has a technical resource capacity of 112 gigawatts of offshore wind. This capacity occurs primarily in deep waters that require floating platform technology to support wind turbines.
California faces various challenges with installing offshore wind turbines. These challenges include insufficient offshore wind historical-technical data and maturity of floating offshore wind technology, depth of offshore waters, high cost of floating technology, lack of information on the impact of these systems on sensitive species and habitats, strict environmental standards, and untested permitting processes.
Identifying ways to support technology innovation to address California-specific challenges will help with long-term development of cost-effective offshore wind projects. Supporting innovation and reducing costs will enable offshore wind to compete in the California energy market and the Western Energy Imbalance Market without subsidies.
The California Energy Commission funded this study to develop priority recommendations that would lead to cost-effective offshore wind projects. The study identifies 11 research, development, and deployment opportunities to remove or reduce technological, manufacturing, logistics, and supply chain barriers to deployment; lower the development risk of offshore energy projects; and identify opportunities for early pilot demonstration projects.