Offshore wind could help solve California’s reliability problem, report finds

Offshore wind development offers an answer to California’s reliability problem, and could greatly help the state reach its net-zero goals, according to a new report.

The University of Southern California’s Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy report, California’s Offshore Wind Electricity Opportunity, states that offshore wind could provide $1 billion in resource cost savings, improved reliability of services and more stand capacity factors, and thousands of new jobs.

An estimated 20 GW of viable offshore wind capacity exists in California, the report says, with the potential to provide 25% of the state’s future electricity needs and reduce the need for backup gas generation.

Read more: The automated vessel designed to transport electricity from offshore wind farms to shore

“California could reap additional economic co-benefits from the development of a local offshore wind industry, boosting manufacturing and creating still additional jobs,” the authors wrote. “Additionally, OSW has the potential to advance environmental justice through its reduction of ordinary air pollutants in urban areas and can bring economic opportunities to lagging areas of the state.”

But the report outlines significant challenges for offshore wind growth in California, too. 

The cost of offshore wind is still double that of solar-PV and onshore wind and isn’t expected to reach parity until at least 2030. Additionally, new transmission infrastructure and upgrades are likely needed.

“Despite these hurdles, offshore wind has the potential to play a pivotal role in meeting the goals set by SB 100, as well as turning California into a global hub for offshore wind development,” the authors wrote.

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