Oregon Department of Energy Identifies Floating Wind Benefits and Challenges

The Oregon Department of Energy has published a report on floating wind, according to which floating offshore wind farms could help this US State achieve its clean energy goals, but not without challenges ahead of potential deployment.

The Oregon Legislature directed the State’s Department of Energy to conduct a study outlining the benefits and challenges of integrating up to 3 GW of floating offshore wind into Oregon’s grid by 2030 following the passage of the floating wind bill in 2021.

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The study found that floating offshore wind could help Oregon achieve its clean energy goals, strengthen grid reliability and resilience, and bolster economic development in coastal communities, among others.

Looking at challenges, the study outlines concerns about the effects potential offshore wind development could have on coastal communities, the environment, natural and cultural resources, and existing coastal industries like fishing, recreation, and tourism.

Furthermore, the report also identified potential challenges with technology, transmission system, and port infrastructure readiness, as well as those that could be posed by complex siting and permitting processes.

“Like all energy technologies, floating offshore wind development would carry important tradeoffs for Oregon”, said Janine Benner, Director of the Oregon Department of Energy. “We hope our study provides policy and decisionmakers with helpful background and expert analysis as they continue conversations around how floating offshore wind could help Oregon reach our clean energy and climate goals”.

The Department of Energy said that there was a need for further study, engagement, and collaboration to more fully understand how floating offshore wind could affect the state.

At the beginning of this year, the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) informed that it had 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 then started a process to narrow down these pieces of federal waters into Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) which could support 3 GW in the near term.

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A couple of months later, BOEM issued an official Call for Information and Nominations to assess commercial interest in, and obtain public input on potential wind energy leasing in federal waters off the State’s coast.

One of those who responded to the Call was Deep Blue Pacific Wind, a joint venture between TotalEnergies and Simply Blue Group, which nominated three areas off Southern Oregon to build the US Pacific Northwest’s first floating offshore wind project.

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Photo: Illustration; Hywind Scotland, world's first floating wind farm. Source: Øyvind Gravås / Woldcam / Equinor