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Around the world with Team Norway: Ambitious goals for floating wind in California

Floating offshore wind plays a crucial role in California's ambitious clean energy goals. With the recent signing of a cooperation agreement with Norway, California is one step closer to achieving its floating wind goals. Published 3 Jul 2024 (updated 8 Jul 2024) · 3 min read
Wind turbine at sea, blue skies

“California aims to achieve 100 per cent clean energy by 2045, with offshore wind energy contributing significantly to this target,” states Sharon Røe, Senior Advisor in Green Maritime and Offshore Wind at Innovation Norway.

“Specifically, California plans to generate 25 gigawatts (GW) from offshore wind, which is expected to meet 10 to 20 per cent of the state’s energy demand. This substantial wind power contribution underscores its importance in California’s transition to a sustainable energy future,” she explains.

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There are currently five existing leases in California: two in Northern California off Humboldt County and three in Central California near Morro Bay.

“Equinor is involved, so that’s of course exciting for Norway. It has secured one of the leases in the Morro Bay area estimated to have the capacity to generate up to 2 GW of electricity,” Røe says.

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There are a total of five offshore wind developers involved in projects in Northern and Central California. Apart from smaller pilot projects, these are the commercial-scale projects that will transform the state’s energy landscape, paving the way for substantial clean energy production and establishing California as a leader in offshore wind development.

“The leased areas have the potential to produce over 4.6 GW of offshore wind energy. However, more lease areas will be required to achieve the state’s 2045 offshore wind goals,” she says.

Equinor is involved, so that’s of course exciting for Norway. It has secured one of the leases in the Morro Bay area.

Sharon Røe

Senior Advisor in Green Maritime and Offshore Wind, Innovation Norway

Norway is a valuable and attractive partner

The offshore wind market in California is in its early stages. A lot must be done before development starts, but there is plenty of will and ambition in the state. In April 2024, an offshore wind programme was held as part of the California-Norway Business Festival. The programme focused on enhancing collaboration between Norwegian and Californian stakeholders in the offshore wind sector.

According to Røe, the Business Festival was a great success. A business panel brought together executives from all five California offshore wind leaseholders: Equinor, Invenergy, Golden State Wind, RWE and Vineyard Offshore.

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The offshore wind programme at the California-Norway Business Festival focused on enhancing collaboration between Norwegian and Californian stakeholders in the offshore wind sector.

Final strategic plan and ripple effects of offshore wind development

In June 2024, the California Energy Commission (CEC) released its final strategic plan for offshore wind development in California.

“The plan outlines several critical next steps to achieve California’s targets, including investments in a multi-port strategy, electricity transmission developments, permitting process, supply chain and workforce training, stakeholder engagement, and identifying suitable sea space to reach 25 GW of offshore wind,” Røe explains.

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The development of offshore wind will generate significant economic activity in local communities.

“In California, the first offshore wind projects are expected to create numerous jobs for a highly skilled workforce. These projects will also provide substantial funds through community benefit agreements and invest considerably in local workforce development programmes and domestic supply chains,” she says.

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