California Floating Wind Pilot Project Hits Development Milestone

BW Ideol’s planned offshore floating wind pilot-project in California has progressed to the environmental assessment stage.

BW Ideol; Illustration

This represents the next milestone in the permitting process for what may become one of the first wind farms off the coast of California, the floating wind specialist said.

The 40 MW+ pre-commercial floating wind project based on BW Ideol’s Damping Pool® technology, will be installed off Vandenberg Space Force Base, formerly Vandenberg Air Force Base, located in Santa Barbara County, California.

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On 21 October, the California State Lands Commission formally authorized the solicitation of Statements of Interest for consultant services for the preparation of environmental documentation and mitigation monitoring for the proposed wind farm.

”We are pleased with the progress on the project at a time when both the Biden Administration and the State of California have made strong statements in favour of offshore wind development in California. We are convinced that our unique, proven technology with high local content may create thousands of local jobs when commercial-scale arrays are deployed. This pilot project will provide local stakeholders with exposure to and reassurance of the impacts and benefits of floating offshore wind,” said Paul de la Guérivière, the CEO of BW Ideol.

The upcoming environmental assessment comes just over two years after BW Ideol’s initial lease application submittal. It is a key element of a standard approval process and the result of extensive collaboration with the California State Lands Commission’s staff as well as extensive stakeholder outreach by the Commission, BW Ideol said.

The project development plan is said to leverage BW Ideol’s cost competitive concrete hulls while also minimizing long-distance shipping and logistics, using local labour, supply-chain and infrastructure in California to reduce the carbon footprint and maximize local content contribution.

In 2019, BW Ideol conducted an in-depth review of all major California ports and identified at least five suitable sites for construction and launch of concrete hulls for commercial-scale wind farms, 50 units or more. Two of these were considered immediately suitable without any upgrades.

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In addition, the review singled-out four sites suitable for wind turbine assembly and eight harbors capable of storing mooring lines as well as hosting operation and maintenance bases.

Back in September, California signed the offshore wind bill (AB 525) into law. The legislation directs the California Energy Commission to evaluate and quantify the maximum feasible capacity of offshore wind on or before 1 June 2022 and to establish offshore wind planning goals for 2030 and 2045 to achieve the state’s renewable energy goals by that time.