US Plans to Auction 3 GW Offshore Oregon, Pinpoints Three Areas

The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has identified three Call Areas in the Pacific Ocean offshore Oregon for wind energy development, which have a total installed capacity potential of 17 GW. The agency is now embarking on narrowing down these pieces of federal waters into Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) which could support 3 GW in the near term, with a lease sale expected in the first quarter of 2024, at the latest.

This is according to a presentation BOEM published ahead of the tenth meeting of the BOEM Oregon Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force to be held today (25 February).

The agency has identified Call Areas offshore the cities of Coos Bay, Bandon, and Brookings which span 5,651 square kilometres and could accommodate a total of 16,956 MW of installed offshore wind capacity.

BOEM

However, BOEM targets developing around 3 GW in the near term and cites figures from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), according to which 2,625 MW of offshore wind capacity could be integrated into Oregon’s power system without major upgrades to the trans-coastal transmission, or significant curtailment of offshore wind generation.

This capacity could be distributed amongst five coastal substations, according to NREL, and BOEM notes that its proposed Call Areas are close to two of five interconnection points.

BOEM, which is currently holding the record-breaking New York Bight offshore wind auction, offered the first marine renewable energy research lease in federal waters off the US West Coast last year, when Oregon State University (OSU) secured a site offshore Newport, Oregon, for its PacWave South project, a proposed open ocean wave energy test center.

The Pacific Ocean waters off Oregon were also of interest to Principle Power, which submitted an unsolicited lease request in 2013 for a floating wind pilot project, WindFloat Pacific.

The floating wind technology developer withdrew the request in 2016 and, in September 2018, BOEM determined that the Principle Power Offshore Wind Pilot project no longer retains its non-competitive interest status and was no longer processing the Principle Power lease request.

The US Government opened the Pacific Coast for first commercial scale offshore wind projects last year with the decision to advance areas northwest of Morro Bay and off Humboldt County in California for offshore wind development.

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Since then, the process towards lease sales has progressed with BOEM recently releasing the draft Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Humboldt Wind Energy Area (WEA).

Along with California, and now Oregon, BOEM is also working towards an offshore wind lease sale in federal waters off North Carolina and South Carolina, for which the agency issued a Proposed Sale Notice in October last year, around the time the US Government announced it would organise up to seven new offshore wind lease sales by 2025.

The seven offshore wind auctions include those for Wind Energy Areas in the Gulf of Maine, New York Bight, Central Atlantic, and Gulf of Mexico, as well as offshore the Carolinas, California, and Oregon.

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Photo: Equinor; Illustration