California Allocates USD 45 Million to Kick-Start Offshore Wind in USD 2 Billion Clean Energy Budget

California’s Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled a state budget proposal for the 2022-2023 fiscal year on 10 January, following the revision issued in May 2021 which dedicated USD 20 million for offshore wind activities. The budget proposed now raises this to USD 45 million.

The USD 2 billion budget for the Clean Energy Investment Plan is meant to spur additional innovation and deployment of clean energy technologies in the state’s energy system, with most of the funding (USD 962.4 million) set to provide resources to accelerate decarbonisation of existing buildings.

With USD 45 million for offshore wind activities, to be led by the California Energy Commission, the government wants to advance the development of offshore wind energy in federal waters off the state’s coast. This involves creating an Offshore Wind Energy Deployment Facility Improvement Program to advance the capabilities of deploying offshore wind energy off California in the areas of facility planning and development.

The announced investment in offshore wind activities comes a few months after Governor Newsom enacted the state’s new offshore wind bill, which requires 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.

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The new state budget also allocates USD 100 million to advance the use and production of green hydrogen, USD 10 million less than in the budget revision last year.

Green hydrogen is critical to the decarbonisation of California’s economy and achieving carbon neutrality, according to the budget document, which also earmarks USD 210 million to accelerate industrial sector decarbonisation.

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The clean energy budget is part of a wider allocation of funds for climate resilience that will see USD 20 billion invested over five years across various infrastructure investments in transportation, energy, housing, wildfire resilience, and drought to advance the state’s climate and opportunity agenda.

The plan aims to decrease California’s reliance on fossil fuels while preparing its economy and workforce for a clean energy future.

“California will write the playbook for how America confronts the impacts of climate change – investing billions in climate tech research & development, clean cars, preparing Californians for career opportunities, and further readying our infrastructure to withstand extreme weather”, California’s state government said in a press release.

As part of these plans, the new budget includes USD 465 million one-time fund over three years to continue expanding workforce strategies to reach climate goals, including USD 50 million for a pilot support fund to address the needs of oil and gas workers facing displacement.

The climate resilience budget also invests an additional USD 6.1 billion towards Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) acceleration, adding to USD 3.9 billion allocated in the 2021 Budget Act.

Photo: State of California; Office of Governor Gavin Newsom