1st US floating offshore wind auction nets $757M in bids

Dec 7, 2022, 2:26 AM | Updated: 5:09 pm
Hywind Scotland, the world's first commercial wind farm using floating wind turbines, is visible of...

Hywind Scotland, the world's first commercial wind farm using floating wind turbines, is visible off the coast of Scotland in August 2017. Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022, marks the first-ever U.S. auction for leases to develop commercial-scale floating wind farms in the deep waters off the West Coast. (Woldcam/Equinor via AP)

(Woldcam/Equinor via AP)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The first-ever U.S. auction of leases to develop commercial-scale floating wind farms in the deep waters off the West Coast attracted $757 million in winning bids Wednesday from mostly European companies, in a project watched by other regions and countries just getting their own plans for floating offshore wind started.

The auction featured five lease areas — two in northern California and three in central California — about 25 miles off the coast that have the potential to generate 4.5 gigawatts of energy, enough for 1.5 million homes. Combined, the lease areas cover 583 square miles (1,510 square kilometers) of Pacific Ocean.

The winning bids came from Norway’s Equinor; California North Floating, part of Denmark’s Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners; Germany’s RWE AG, and Central California Offshore Wind, a part of the French and Portugese joint venture Ocean Winds. Invenergy was the only American company with a winning bid.

Offshore wind is well established in the U.K. and some other countries but is just beginning to ramp up off America’s coasts, and this is the nation’s first foray into floating wind turbines. U.S. auctions so far have been for those anchored to the seafloor.

The growth of offshore wind comes as climate change intensifies and need for clean energy grows. It also is getting cheaper. The cost of developing offshore wind has dropped 60% since 2010 according to a July report by the International Renewable Energy Agency. It declined 13% in 2021 alone.

The auction netted less than the $4.37 billion generated by an offshore wind lease sale off the East Coast earlier this year, which was expected by at least one industry group. Those leases involved turbines fixed to the seafloor in shallower water.

Industry experts say the lower bids this week are likely due to the lack of maturity in the offshore wind market on the West Coast and the nascent technology involved in anchoring floating wind farms in deep ocean waters. Uncertainties about transmission infrastructure, siting and permitting also played a role, they said.

“I think there was an awareness of the stage that this is at and (California) is moving on the very things that have to be in place for this to develop,” said Adam Stern, executive director of Offshore Wind California, an industry trade group.

“New York and New Jersey and the East Coast in general are further along and California is going to benefit from that work that happens on the East Coast — and we may be able to catch up faster because of it.”

Many of the winning companies are already involved in traditional offshore wind off the East Coast of the U.S. and in floating wind farms overseas.

Equinor, which developed the world’s first floating wind farm in 2017 in Scotland and is the largest U.S. offshore wind developer to date, bid of $130 million for a roughly 2-gigawatt lease off central California’s Morro Bay. The lease area has the potential to generate enough energy to power about 750,000 homes, the company said.

Similar auctions are in the works off Oregon’s coast next year and in the Gulf of Maine in 2024.

President Joe Biden set a goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030 using traditional fixed offshore technology, enough to power 10 million homes. Then the administration announced plans in September to develop floating platforms that could vastly expand offshore wind in the United States.

The nation’s first offshore wind farm opened off the coast of Rhode Island in late 2016, allowing residents of small Block Island to shut off five diesel generators. Wind advocates took notice, but with five turbines, it’s not commercial scale.

___

AP reporter Jennifer McDermott in Providence, R.I. contributed to this report.

___

Follow Gillian Flaccus on Twitter here.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Protesters gather in front of police headquarters while marching Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023, in Memphi...
Associated Press

Memphis police disband unit that fatally beat Tyre Nichols

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Memphis police chief disbanded the city’s so-called Scorpion unit on Saturday, citing a “cloud of dishonor” from newly released video that showed some of its officers beating Tyre Nichols to death after stopping the Black motorist. Police Director Cerelyn “CJ” Davis acted a day after the harrowing video emerged, saying […]
1 day ago
People lay flowers to commemorate British volunteers Chris Parry and Andrew Bagshaw, killed in Ukra...
Associated Press

Friends remember volunteer killed trying to help civilians

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Friends and volunteers gathered in Kyiv’s St Sophia’s Cathedral on Sunday to say goodbye to volunteer Andrew Bagshaw who was killed with his colleague Christopher Parry while they were evacuating people from a front-line Ukrainian town. Bagshaw, 48, a New Zealand-British joint national, and Briton Parry, 28, went missing earlier this […]
1 day ago
This photo provided by Daniel Esteban Paez shows Tortuguita, left, with their nephew in 2020 in Cha...
Associated Press

Protesters: ‘Cop City’ activist’s killing doesn’t make sense

ATLANTA (AP) — Tortuguita’s cautious voice rang out from a platform amid the tall pines the first time Vienna met them: “Who goes there?” she remembers them calling. The tree-dweller, who chose the moniker Tortuguita – Spanish for “Little Turtle” – over their given name, was perched above the forest floor in the woods just […]
1 day ago
Members of the Memphis Police Department work a crime scene in Memphis, Tenn., Tuesday, Jan. 24, 20...
Associated Press

Tyre Nichols case revives calls for change in police culture

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — An unarmed Black man dies after a videotaped beating by police. The officers involved are fired. After a thorough review of the evidence, criminal charges are swiftly filed against the offending officers. Investigation, accountability and charges. This is often the most Black citizens can hope for as the deaths continue. Nationwide, […]
1 day ago
FILE - President Joe Biden speaks at the National Prayer Breakfast, Feb. 3, 2022, on Capitol Hill i...
Associated Press

Concerns over prayer breakfast lead Congress to take it over

WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Prayer Breakfast, one of the most visible and long-standing events that brings religion and politics together in Washington, is splitting from the private religious group that had overseen it for decades, due to concerns the gathering had become too divisive. The organizer and host for this year’s breakfast, scheduled for […]
1 day ago
FILE - The building that housed office space of President Joe Biden's former institute, the Penn Bi...
Associated Press

Classified docs probe pushes Biden think tank into spotlight

WASHINGTON (AP) — As Joe Biden contemplated his next move in 2017 after decades in government, he considered a familiar path — creating a Washington-based think tank to focus on international affairs and diplomacy. It proved an easy sell and a lucrative one, too. Soft landings in the capital are common for officials with a […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
1st US floating offshore wind auction nets $757M in bids