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Humboldt Wind Farm Project

The project

The Norwegian-California connection: the project

EDPR, Oslo-based Aker Solutions, Principle Power Inc (PPI) and the Eureka, California-based Redwood Coast Energy Authority (RCEA), are developing the Redwood Coast Offshore Wind Farms, a 120-150MW floating wind farm to be sited off the coast of Humboldt County, CA. The project aims to be the first offshore wind farm in California and the catalyst for Humboldt County to become a west coast offshore wind industry hub.

Together, these partners provide significant offshore wind power experience, a mature, cost-competitive and suitable floating offshore wind foundation technology (PPI’s WindFloat technology) and the expertise needed to develop, finance, install and operate the project.

The Humboldt county provides a unique opportunity for exploiting the wind power potential off the west coast of the United States. With average wind speeds of more than 10m per second, the offshore wind resources at Humboldt County are the best in California and comparable with some of the best performing offshore wind sites in Europe. The Humboldt Bay port is a deep water facility that can support the staging, construction and long-term operations of the project. Further, partly because of the presence of Humboldt State University, the area is home to a wide range of local energy, environmental and economic professionals.

Benefits

The project will require investment and the revitalization of the local infrastructure at Humboldt Bay and other nearby onshore facilities. These investments will require skilled labor from the immediate and surrounding area, creating jobs and a job-training infrastructure that will be advantageous for Humboldt County and future offshore development.

At 120-150MW, the scale of the project will demonstrate the potential of this wind farm in California helping to achieve its climate goals and provide essential lessons for future large-scale development, while also showing how it will not have an adverse impact on the coastal environment or sustainable fisheries. Lessons learned from the project will provide the critical foundation necessary for growing the west coast offshore wind industry sustainably alongside the expansion of the land-based transmission required to unlock its full potential. As was demonstrated with the Block Island Wind Farm on the east coast, a single successful project developed with the support of the local community can jump start an entire industry.

About the development process

For the north coast, California State University, Humboldt, is studying options on how to address transmission constraints both on land and under water. The local electricity provider, Redwood Coast Energy Authority, intends to be both a customer and a partner with EDPR and Aker Solutions in what could be the first offshore wind farm in California, a 150MW facility 24 miles off the coast at Humboldt County and using the floating platform technology that will likely be the primary method of siting offshore wind structures off the west coast because of the depth of the ocean.

For the central coast, the offshore wind and State of California have been engaged in a dialog with the US Navy to determine how offshore wind and defense operations can coexist. It is important for the industry, and its attendant jobs and facilities, that the area identified for development be large enough to accommodate significant exploitation without any arbitrary moratorium.

The experience should yield further creative solutions as to how offshore wind and the Department of Defense can work together for the benefit of the nation.