Floating wind on US west coast needs $35 billion in port upgrades — report

Port infrastructure for floating wind on the US west coast would require up to $35 billion of investment to meet or exceed existing state deployment targets, according to a new study.

The first commercial offshore wind farms are being built off the US's east coast (pic credit: Matthew J Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Developing just one staging and integration port site for offshore wind project installation could require an investment of $1 billion or more and take around ten years, the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) said in its report.

Further funding would be needed for manufacturing facilities, vessel construction, workforce training, community engagement, and the cost of the offshore wind energy projects themselves, the "Impacts of Developing a Port Network for Floating Offshore Wind Energy on the West Coast" report points out.  

Meeting California’s 25GW offshore wind energy target by 2045 would likely require four installation port sites (at two or three ports) and at least eight operations and maintenance (O&M) port sites within the state, costing around $5 billion to develop.

An offshore wind portfolio of 55 GW deployed along the West Coast by 2045 could require nine installation port sites (at four or five ports) and 17 operations and maintenance port sites in California, Oregon, and Washington, with an associated investment of around $11 billion.

Expanding the port network to create a west coast supply chain could require 16–28 additional port sites to support 25–55GW of deployment, the report suggests. These manufacturing port sites would likely need an additional $11-19 billion to construct.

A west coast floating wind energy supply chain could provide thousands of jobs for local communities, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by lowering transport distances, and lower the risk of relying on overseas materials, said NREL.

The first west coast commercial-scale projects are expected to be built around 2030.