Plans for America’s first floating offshore wind farm are taking shape with the news that California’s Redwood Coast Energy Authority (RCEA) has selected a consortium to enter into a public-private partnership to develop the project off the Northern California coast.
The consortium is comprised of Principle Power Inc., EDPR Offshore North America LLC, Aker Solutions Inc., H. T. Harvey & Associates, and Herrera Environmental Consultants Inc. and was one of six respondents to a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) issued by the RCEA on February 1, 2018.
The proposed project is a 100-150 megawatts floating offshore wind farm planned to be located more than 20 miles off the coast of Eureka in Humboldt County, Calif. The project is expected to pave the way for offshore wind energy off the West Coast and may be the first project to unlock the extraordinary value of offshore wind energy for California.
“We believe this project can represent a game-changer for the industry in the U.S.,” said Joao Metelo, Principle Power’s President and CEO. “The establishment of a public-private partnership with a community-based energy provider like RCEA represents a unique opportunity to develop a project with strong foundations from the get-go, and to build a comprehensive launching pad for a successful industry in the West Coast.”
Humboldt County has natural enabling advantages that make it a prospective stepping stone for the offshore wind energy industry on the West Coast of the U.S., according to RCEA. The wind resource off the Humboldt County coast is the best off California with average wind speeds of more than 10 meters per second, inducing expected high capacity performance from wind farms.
“This project is strategic in the long-run and attractive to us due to its potential to spur large market development in California,” said João Manso Neto, EDP Renewables CEO. “EDP Renewables is confident in the viability of the offshore wind market and looks forward to continuing development on this project with the ultimate goal of further increasing our operational presence in the United States.”
Matthew Marshall, Executive Director of the RCEA, said, “Large development companies and energy players based in Europe and the U.S. responded to the RFQ which helps confirm the attractiveness of Humboldt County as the potential starting point for an entire new industry.”
The selected developer consortium features significant offshore wind lease application and permitting experience, a mature, cost-competitive and suitable floating wind technology for Humboldt County’s unique geography (Principle Power Inc’s WindFloat technology), and a highly-capable team with the needed capacity to develop, finance, operate and build a supply chain to support this and future projects. RCEA and the selected consortium will be negotiating and finalizing a partnership agreement in the coming weeks, working toward the goal of submitting a lease application later this spring.
The project is expected to drive investment in local infrastructure at the Port of Humboldt Bay and other nearby onshore facilities. Collaboration with local stakeholders to identify and address needed infrastructure improvements will be led by the project partners.
“We are excited to be part of this first commercial scale project for floating offshore wind in the United States. Combining our capabilities with Principle Power’s technology can help mature the local supply chain, potentially generating industry growth in Humboldt County and the state of California,” said Jonah Margulis, Vice President and U.S. Country Manager at Aker Solutions.