Offshore energy projects in the PNW

Humboldt, CA Wind Energy Area

206 Square Miles – Northern California

The offshore wind project off the coast of Northern California at Humboldt County will industrialize 206 square miles of ocean. The wind energy area is 28 miles north to south and 14 miles east to west in size, and 21 miles offshore Eureka, CA. The Humboldt Bay Port will be expanded. Typical offshore wind turbines are approximately 900-1000 feet tall (70-100 story building), with blade lengths of up to 350 feet (for a rotor diameter of 700 feet).

Two lease sites sold at a December 2022 auction for $331.5 million. The winning bidders were RWE Offshore Wind Holdings at $157.7 million for 63,338 acres and California North Floating, LLC at $173.8 million for 69,031 acres.

The RWE site is named Canopy. RWE also plans to open an office for its local team in Eureka in early 2024.

References:

1,811 Square Miles – Oregon

The two offshore wind projects off the coast of Oregon will industrialize 1,811 square miles of ocean. It is currently unknown how many turbines will be proposed for these projects. Typical offshore wind turbines are approximately 900-1000 feet tall (70-100 story building), with blade lengths of up to 350 feet (for a rotor diameter of 700 feet). These projects will be situated 13-57 miles off the cost of Southern Oregon. The Coos Bay area is about 50m north to south, and 35 east to west in size; the Brookings area is about 46m north to south and 22m east to west in size. The Coos Bay Port will be expanded between 65 to 210 acres to include a Staging and Integration facility, a Manufacturing and Fabrication Facility and an Operation and Maintenance facility.

The draft Environmental Assessment meeting was Tuesday May 21, 2024, 1-4pm PT. Agenda and meeting registration. We will have our comment posted in about 2 weeks.

The next meeting is the Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force Meeting; the purpose: “Facilitate coordination, consultation and information sharing among federal, state, local and Tribal governments regarding renewable energy leasing process on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) in Oregon.” Thursday May 23, 2024, 9am to 4pm PT (public comment period 1:50-4pm). Agenda and registration info.

References:

~400 Square Miles – Washington

Two companies have submitted unsolicited lease requests to BOEM to develop offshore wind projects near Westport, WA. Trident Winds and Hecate Energy have submitted these proposals. As of yet, BOEM has not put out a call for lease proposals in WA for floating offshore wind projects. These projects would be located approximately 45 miles offshore, west of Westport, WA.

References:

Proposed location for tidal energy project in WA
Orbital Marine Power Machine in the ocean

Unknown scope – Washington

Orcas Power and Light Cooperative (OPALCO) formed a strategic alliance with Orbital Marine Energy Ltd. in 2021, proposing to install one to four floating tidal turbines in Rosario Strait. Each machine would be 243 feet in length, and 194 feet wide, approximately the size of a Boeing 747. One machine would power up to only 400 homes. Massive mooring cables and anchors would hold the turbine machine in position.

Very few of these machines are in use worldwide, so the impacts on the marine environment are unknown. The large rotors with 65 foot blades are likely to create disturbing noise, and potentially injure or kill diving birds, fish, and sea mammals. The cables holding the machines in place will likely scour the seabed (similar to other marine cables for offshore wind turbines and oil rigs) and create large sediment plumes that can kill marine life. Electrical cables bringing power onshore emit electromagnetic radiation that some marine animals are sensitive to and damage the seabed.

Increased marine traffic for installation and maintenance will increase noise and disturb marine environments. It is uknown if the machines leak oil during regular operation like wind turbines often do. It is unknown if offshore substations are required, which would have additional impacts on the marine environment.

References:

Net capacity factor for technical resource area and outline of the 10 Alaska offshore energy regions

Assessments and Leases – Alaska

A 2017 report quantifies Alaska’s offshore wind resource capacity. While the AK offshore wind energy potential is huge, as the report states, “significant challenges inhibit large-scale offshore wind deployment in Alaska” due to remoteness and other challenges. AK also has huge areas of onshore wind energy potential, so it is perhaps unlikely that offshore wind energy development will happen in AK’s waters anytime soon, but we’ll keep an eye on it.

Shell’s recent failed attempts over the past decade to drill for oil offshore AK illustrate the difficulty of offshore energy development in the region, although Shell still has oil and gas leases in the region.

Hilcorp Alaska LLC has several offshore energy development projects in the works, including a suspended project in the Beaufort Sea, in Foggy Island Bay, to build an artificial island and pipeline for oil and gas extraction, a lease for a Cook Inlet tidal energy project awarded in March of 2023, and an oil and gas lease also for Cook Inlet awarded in December, 2022.

Ocean Renewable Power Company, of Maine, is also looking at a tidal project in Cook Inlet. This company already has a river current energy generator on the Alaska Peninsula.

There is considerable concern that tidal energy turbines in Cook Inlet will harm salmon and beluga whale populations.

References:

Unknown scope – Pacific Coast Wave Power

Oscilla Power is a Seattle-based startup that makes wave energy capture machines. They envision “deploying thousands of devices along the U. S. West Coast” in a giant array. Each machine in the array of thousands will be capable of generating 1 megawatt of power.

PacWave is based at Oregon State University and has two open ocean wave energy testing sites off the Oregon coast near Newport, OR.

References:

Industry Collaboratives and Supply Chains

Maritime Blue Wind Collaborative is an offshore wind industry and supply chain group working in collaboration with Washington State government that aims to build offshore wind manufacturing industries and workforce supply in WA.

References: