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Sale fast launches offshore wind power floating in US waters

Sale fast launches offshore wind power floating in US waters
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PORTLAND, Mine. (AP) – On Tuesday, it is auctioning for the first time leases to develop commercial-scale floating wind farms in deep waters off the US West Coast.

The live, online auction for five rentals, three on California’s central coast and two on the north coast, attracted a lot of attention, with 43 companies from around the world approved to bid. The wind turbines will float about 25 miles offshore.

The growth of offshore wind is emerging as climate change intensifies and the need for clean energy increases. It also gets cheaper. Offshore wind development cost down 60% since 2010 According to the July report by the International Renewable Energy Agency. It fell 13% in 2021 alone.

Offshore wind is well established in the UK and several other countries but is just beginning to rise off the coast of America and this is the country’s first foray into floating wind turbines. Auctions so far have been for those moored to the seafloor.

Josh Kaplowitz, vice president of offshore wind at American Clean Power, has some floating offshore wind in Europe – a project in the North Sea has been in operation since 2017 – but the potential for the technology is huge in strong wind fields off the coast of America. Society.

“We know it works. We know this can supply a large part of our electricity needs, and if we’re going to solve the climate crisis, we need to get as many clean electrons online as possible, especially given the rise in demand for freight with electric vehicles.” said. “As part of the puzzle, we can only achieve our greenhouse gas targets with offshore wind.”

Similar auctions will be held off the coast of Oregon next year and in the Gulf of Maine in 2024. President Joe Biden has set a goal By 2030, deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind using conventional technology that anchors wind turbines to the ocean floor, that’s enough to power 10 million homes. Then management announced. plans in september Developing floating platforms that can greatly expand offshore wind in the United States.

The nation’s first offshore wind farm opened off the coast of Rhode Island in late 2016, allowing residents of small Block Island to shut down five diesel generators. Wind advocates took notice, but not on a commercial scale with five turbines.

Globally, as of 2021, only 123 megawatts of floating offshore wind were operating, but that number is expected to increase to about 19 gigawatts – 150 times more – by 2030. according to a report by Offshore Wind California last week.

The California sale is designed to foster a local supply chain and create union jobs. Bidders can convert some of their bids into loans that benefit such as local communities, tribes and commercial fishermen affected by wind development.

As predicted, the turbines, likely nearly as tall as the Eiffel Tower, will float on giant triangular platforms roughly the size of a small city block, or floating cylinders with cables securing them underwater. Each will have three blades longer than the distance between home plate and outfield on a baseball diamond, and will need to be mounted on land and towed perpendicular to open ocean targets.

Whether on land or at sea, modern long turbines can generate 20 times more electricity than shorter machines from the early 1990s, for example.

“In absolutely perfect conditions, crystal clear on the best days, you can see tiny dots on the horizon at the highest point,” said Larry Oetker, Executive Director of Humboldt Bay Harbor, Conservation and Recreation. The district that prepares the deep water port for projects.

Offshore wind is a good complement to solar power that turns off at night. Jim Berger, partner at law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, which specializes in financing renewable energy projects, said offshore winds are stronger and more sustained and pick up in the evening when solar power is out but demand is high.

California has a goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2045. “We rely more on fossil fuel production when the sun goes down,” Berger said. “These projects are huge, so when you add one or a few projects, you add significantly to the power generation base in the state,” he said.

Rentals have the potential to generate 4.5 gigawatts of energy, enough for 1.5 million homes, and could bring big changes to the communities in the rural coastal areas closest to rentals.

In remote Humboldt County in Northern California, offshore projects are expected to create more than 4,000 jobs and $38 million in state and local tax revenue in an area that has been economically depressed since the decline of the lumber industry in the 1970s and 1980s. , according to the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Conservation and Recreation Area.

Oetker, the region’s executive director, said he received $12 million from California to prepare the region’s deep-water port for the potential installation of massive turbines, many of which would be too tall to fit under bridges as they towed out to sea.

“We have hundreds of acres of vacant, underutilized industrial property in the current navigation channel … and there are no overhead bridges, power lines or anything,” he said.

But some are wary of the projects, even though they support the clean energy transition.

Environmentalists are concerned about the effects on endangered and endangered whales, which could become entangled in the cables to anchor the turbines. There are also concerns about birds and bats colliding with turbine blades and whales being struck by ships hauling components into the area. Kristen Hislop, senior director of the marine program at the Center for Environmental Defense, said federal regulators set a boat speed limit of less than 12 mph for the project to address this concern.

“Floating offshore wind is brand new and there are only a few projects in the world and we don’t know how it will affect our shores,” he said.

Tribes in the vast coastal areas are also concerned about their ancestral lands being damaged by turbine assembly factories and transmission infrastructure. They fear that the farms can be seen from the holy places of worship at the top of the mountains on clear days.

Frankie Myers, vice president of the Yurok Tribe, attended four wind developer conferences last year. Tribes said it is working with the Ocean Energy Management Bureau, which oversees the leasing process, to secure a 5% offering loan that includes tribal communities for the first time. The agency also said it helps with a cultural assessment of the potential impact on views from holy places of worship.

The tribes are very busy now because they are used to foreign industries coming to them with unfulfilled promises. They saw things done wrong, and since they were intimately familiar with this windswept region, they said they wanted it done right.

“Before they even showed us the map, or even showed us all of its malfunctions… we were like, ‘We know exactly where it’s going,'” Myers said. “There’s no doubt where the best wind comes from, we all understand that. We’ve been here for several thousand years.”

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