Although the U.S. west coast has yet to see its first turbine installation, offshore wind development is gaining momentum in California. To date, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has identified two lease areas for offshore wind development with the potential to bring up to 4.6 gigawatts of offshore wind power to Californians over the next decade. BOEM is expected to launch the lease auction in late 2022, and offshore wind developers are ready to bid.
California Assembly Bill 525, signed by the governor of California, directs state agencies to develop a strategic plan and set statewide planning goals for maximum feasible offshore wind production by 2030 and 2045. These production goals and lease agreements will drive industry development, including port infrastructure that is purpose-built to support the deployment of offshore wind projects off the California coast.
However, finding feasible and practical locations to assemble and tow out floating wind turbine devices has presented challenges unique to California’s long, 840-mile coastline. In addition to the distance between marine ports and exposure to ocean conditions, installation in the deep waters on the Pacific’s outer continental shelf requires a floating turbine installation. Used where fixed-foundation turbines are not feasible, this presents an added challenge because the size of floating turbine devices can make it impossible to transport the major turbine components by land. Ultimately, offshore wind farm development will be fully dependent on marine ports for construction, operations, and maintenance and will require newly constructed facilities purpose-built for operational and loading requirements.
“We are working with a combination of port, state, and federal government agencies on planning studies and infrastructure improvements, and each is looking at offshore wind from a different perspective. The purpose and need are slightly different from client to client, relative to how they plan for and anticipate the needs for a new industry that is still in development and in need of technical definition,” says Moffatt & Nichol’s Shane Phillips. Shane leads the firm’s Seattle office and has supported an array of clients evaluating the infrastructure needs and requirements of offshore wind energy relative to their public agency or business line. “There are a lot of unknowns when it comes to designing a 30-year facility for an industry that is in development and constantly changing. However, it is both a challenge and an opportunity that is well suited for Moffatt & Nichol,” Shane adds.
Because offshore wind is marine-port-dependent, Moffatt & Nichol has the experience, expertise, and local knowledge needed for the new infrastructure improvements. The firm plans and designs waterfront infrastructure required to support windfarm development, including permitting, construction, implementation, and operations and maintenance. Moffatt & Nichol offers experienced thought leadership in vessel navigation and port operations for this quickly developing industry.
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