More than 40 companies are bidding this week on five leases in the Pacific Ocean to build two massive wind farms that could one day power an estimated 1.5 million California homes. The wind farms would be built approximately 20 miles off the coast of Northern California’s Humboldt County and off of Morro Bay in Central California. When complete by 2035, the wind farms are expected to provide a combined total of 4.5 GW of electricity (see infographic below). A report posted at www.sanluisobispo.com said the bids in the first day of the auction toppled $400 million.
These wind farms are of interest to the electrical construction and design communities primarily for the electrical work that will need to be done connecting the power produced by the turbines to the California electrical grid. There’s also typically a fair amount of onshore construction work that will need to be done at ports to build new docks and staging areas for the work vessels shuttling construction supplies and crews out to the wind farms. The miles of electrical cable that will be needed to connect to the wind farms to California's grid will of course be of interest to wire and cable manufacturers. The installation of the cable for offshore windfarms is typically done by maritime specialists in this field.
The California wind farms would differ from the Atlantic Ocean facilities operating and under development off the New England, New York and Virginia coasts because they will use innovative floating turbines anchored to the ocean floor by cables, instead of turbines built on massive foundations. The Pacific Ocean lease sites have extraordinary deep water and using foundations for the turbines apparently is not be an option. According to a report at www.calmatters.org, the turbines off the Northern California coast would be in waters 2,490-ft deep, and the wind farm off the Central California Coast would be built at depth of 3,320 ft. The post said that no other offshore wind farm in the world is operating in waters this deep and that the deepest project to date is in Norway, in waters 721 ft deep. In comparison, the water depths beneath the Atlantic Ocean wind farms tend to be several hundred feet deep.
The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is holding the offshore wind energy lease sale. BOEM is offering five California lease areas that total approximately 373,268 acres. The deployment would help fulfill President Joe Biden’s 2021 pledge to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind nationally by 2030.