United States

United States

US floating wind plans face 10-year delay if lawmaker demands are met

Two Democratic lawmakers have called on the US Bureau of Offshore Energy Management (BOEM) to move wind energy ‘call areas’ off Oregon to deeper waters despite the fact that doing so would delay commercialisation of the region’s floating offshore wind sector by a decade.

The lawmakers have called for a review of the 'call areas' off the coast of Oregon (pic credit: BOEM)
The lawmakers have called for a review of the 'call areas' off the coast of Oregon (pic credit: BOEM)

"We urge you to move the Coos Bay and Brookings call areas beyond the 1,300-metre depth in critical areas to minimise displacing current sustainable fishing activities to the greatest extent possible,” wrote Senator Ron Wyden and Congressman Peter DeFazio.

While DeFazio is retiring from Congress at the end of his current term, Sen. Wyden is former chairman and a current member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Wyden is also chair of the Senate Finance Committee.

A BOEM spokesman said potential leasing in areas deeper than 1,300m would require BOEM to start again and announce new Call Areas. He noted that to the west of the current call areas, the continental shelf slopes quickly to depths greater than 2,000m off northern Oregon and greater than 2,500m off southern Oregon.

Shashi Barla, director and head of renewable energy research at Brinckmann Group, also said pushing Call Areas beyond 1,300m could delay development by about a decade. The floating foundation's technology becomes complex as the water depths increase, he said.

“We’re not sure the technology is at the point where we can go beyond 1,300 metres,” said Peter Cogswell, director of government and external affairs at Deep Blue Pacific. The company, a joint venture between French oil supermajor TotalEnergies and Ireland’s Simply Blue Energy, is hoping to develop 3GW of floating wind in the Oregon Call Areas.

“At this point we are focused on BOEM’s current call areas,” Cogswell said.

The waters off the Pacific Coast are deep, making floating wind - a nascent technology - a more viable option than fixed-bottom offshore technology. An auction is planned off California as soon as Q4 2022.

But Wyden and DeFazio are also demanding an environmental review of wind energy development for the entire US West Coast. Doing so would “provide clarity on unanswered questions on this nascent technology, make informed choices about the best course of action (including considering a no-action scenario), and develop mitigation strategies before it’s too late to make meaningful adjustments,” they wrote.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles
and free email bulletins.

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in