The US recently approved its first utility-scale offshore wind farm in Massachusetts, but the West Coast has been slower to adopt wind technology due to resistance from the Department of Defense. The same agreement that sanctioned the East Coast’s offshore wind farms will now finally expand wind energy operations to California’s coast as well.
The new agreement has identified two sites off central and Northern California that would be ideal for offshore wind turbine placement and, if constructed, would provide 4.6 gigawatts of electricity or enough to power 1.6 million homes.
California’s deep waters and windy climate make it a perfect location for offshore wind, but The Navy and Air Force use the state’s coast for training and testing operations, restricting renewable energy projects. Fortunately, an analysis of Department of Defense waters, as well as a wind energy efficiency map, has found a compromise in the form of a 399-square-mile area off the coast of Morro Bay and another smaller area off the coast of Humboldt County.
Significant environmental impact reports will be necessary before development can begin in these areas, but Nancy Rader of the California Wind Energy Association tells NPR, “This is a major breakthrough — a major advancement that will allow California to start planning for its carbon-free electricity goals with offshore wind firmly in the picture.”