The Biden administration on Wednesday announced more than $757 million in winning bids for its auction of offshore wind development rights in California, marking the third offshore wind lease sale this year and the first ever for the Pacific region.
This week’s auction will also allow for investments in floating turbines, an emerging technology necessary to provide power when coastal waters are too deep for standard turbines to be fixed into the ocean floor. Such technology has so far been implemented in small-scale pilot projects in Europe.
The sale is a major milestone in the administration’s goal of building offshore wind turbines across the nation’s coastlines to help power communities and transition to clean energy. The White House, as part of its broader agenda to address climate change, has committed to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030, enough to power 10 million homes.
The Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) auctioned five lease areas that span about 373,268 acres off California’s coastlines. The leases are located off the Central Coast in the Morro Bay area as well as off the Northern California coast in the Humboldt county area. The projects on those leases could produce power to supply more than 1.5 million homes, the agency said.
Winning bidders include California North Floating, RWE Offshore Wind Holdings, Central California Offshore Wind and Invenergy California Offshore. “The Biden-Harris administration believes that to address the climate crisis head on, we must unleash a new era of clean, reliable energy that serves every household in America,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement.
“The California lease sale gives the U.S. a chance to lead the emerging floating wind sector,” said Erik Milito, president of the National Ocean Industries Association, an oil industry trade group. “Floating wind technology in its early stages but it is an advanced technology that will lead to strong growth in the deployment of offshore wind.”
“Today’s lease sale is further proof that industry momentum including for floating offshore wind development is undeniable,” Haaland said. The country’s offshore wind sector presents a $109 billion revenue opportunity over the next 10 years, according to a report by the Special Initiative on Offshore Wind, an independent project at the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean and Environment.
“Offshore wind is a critical component to achieving our world-leading clean energy goals and this sale is an historic step on California’s march toward a future free of fossil fuels,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement. Earlier this year, the federal government announced a $4.37 billion sale of six offshore wind leases off the coasts of New York and New Jersey. Those leases are anticipated to produce up to 7 gigawatts of clean energy, enough to power nearly 2 million homes.