Advancing West Coast Floating Offshore Wind Energy

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Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Study Explores Offshore Wind Transmission on the West Coast

Numerous studies have delved into the interconnection and transmission aspects of offshore wind energy within the Western Interconnection of the United States, encompassing various temporal and geographical considerations. Additionally, some studies have focused on modeling the economic implications of offshore wind grid integration in the Western Interconnection. Yet, until recently, there has been a lack of comprehensive efforts to systematically review these studies and identify any existing gaps from a holistic system perspective.

In 2022, the West Coast Offshore Wind Transmission Literature Review and Gaps Analysis initiative was initiated, receiving funding from the Wind Energy Technologies Office (WETO) of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Its aim is to bridge this knowledge gap and provide valuable insights into offshore wind transmission on the West Coast.

In support of the interagency Floating Offshore Wind Shot™, a project has been launched with the aim of achieving a 70% reduction in the cost of floating offshore wind energy by 2035. This strategic investment in floating offshore wind energy plays a crucial role in propelling America towards a future powered by clean energy. By harnessing the immense potential of 2.8 terawatts, which is more than double the current U.S. electricity consumption, the project sets the stage for a sustainable energy transformation.

Wind energy experts from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) undertook a comprehensive review of 13 existing studies. These studies focused on the technical evaluation of offshore wind energy transmission, specifically through potential points of interconnection along the coastlines of California, Oregon, and Washington.

The analysis conducted by PNNL serves as a companion study to a previous assessment performed for the Atlantic Coast. In addition to technical evaluations, the analysis considered the impact of existing and emerging state policies, as well as the activities related to wind site lease conducted by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). Notably, it incorporated insights from recent events such as the lease sale and buoy study off the coast of California. Furthermore, the analysis drew upon an ongoing PNNL study focusing on offshore wind power transmission in southern Oregon and northern California.

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