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BOEM issues draft environmental assessment for California offshore wind

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is expected to auction rights to develop offshore wind areas off Northern and Central California this fall.
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Courtesy: Global Wind Energy Council

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) released a draft environmental assessment for the offshore wind development area off the Central California coast.

The draft Morro Bay Wind Energy Area Environmental Assessment is available for public comment until May 7. The report analyzes the potential impacts of commercial leases for offshore wind development.

The 240,898 acres within the Morro Bay WEA are some 20 miles off San Luis Obispo County, California. The area is expected to bring 3 GW of clean energy to the grid when fully developed.

“Public input on our environmental analysis and identified measures to avoid or reduce potential impacts from leasing activities is an important part of our process under the National Environmental Policy Act,” said BOEM’s Pacific Office Regional Director, Doug Boren. “BOEM will analyze and consider all comments before we finalize our analysis.”

Join us on April 13th for the RENEWABLE +Series webinar "Floating offshore wind: How the U.S. can take the lead." Hear from leaders at Aker Offshore Wind, Principle Power, Offshore Wind California, and the Bureau of Ocean Energy management about the future of floating offshore wind development in the U.S. Register for free here.

BOEM released the draft environmental assessment for the Humboldt WEA in Northern California earlier this year. The three commercial leases total 132,368 acres located 21 miles offshore of the city of Eureka. The Humboldt WEA is expected to support the development of at least 1.6 GW of offshore wind.

BOEM said it intends to hold lease auctions for the Morro Bay and Humboldt WEAs together. The auctions are expected to be held sometime this fall.

The respective depths of 900-1,300m and 500-1,100m for the Morro Bay and Humboldt WEAs are expected to require floating offshore wind technology. And while the U.S. has so far lagged behind Europe and Asia in offshore wind development, experts say an opportunity exists to take the lead in floating offshore wind.

The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) highlighted the U.S. in a recent report for its potential to capitalize on the next round of floating offshore wind growth, which globally is still a nascent technology. Whether the U.S. can take advantage of the floating offshore wind market, however, depends on policies and investments needed to pave the way.

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