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Offshore wind energy presents enormous potential to help meet California’s 100% clean electricity target. The wind resource beyond Humboldt Bay is among the best in the nation, with wind speeds often exceeding 10 meters per second at 90 meters above the ocean’s surface — and even faster at heights around 120 meters, where turbines would likely be centered. Offshore wind speeds are fairly steady across seasons and throughout the day, providing stable energy generation.
To develop wind generation off California’s north coast would require harbor and transmission upgrades, and careful siting and design based on environmental and geological constraints and consideration of the resource needs of current stakeholders including fisheries, local tribes, and the US military.
- Offshore wind study series 1: Funded by the California Ocean Protection Council.
- Offshore wind study series 2: Funded by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
- Offshore wind study series 3: Funded by the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research.
- Seabird 3D: Funded by the California Energy Commission’s Electric Program Investment Charge.
In 2019, our team began conducting a range of studies to assess the feasibility of offshore wind development for the region off Humboldt Bay, California.
- Our first studies included energy generation and transmission; economics and job development; port and coastal infrastructure; environmental and geological systems; and community needs and goals for shared ocean resources.
- In May 2021, we completed a preliminary feasibility assessment for Del Norte County.
- In March of 2022, we completed an updated transmission study that looked at generation potential within current infrastructure constraints.
- Our latest report (January 2023) explores Competitive Offshore Wind Leases on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf — with an emphasis on multi-factor auctions and nonmonetary credits.
Collaborators on our offshore wind studies have included ecological consultants from H.T. Harvey and Associates, coastal engineering specialists from Mott MacDonald, energy sector experts from Quanta Technology, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Pacific Gas & Electric, and faculty in the Geology, Economics, and Environmental Science & Management departments at Cal Poly Humboldt.
Seabirds in 3D: a new framework for assessing collision vulnerability with floating offshore wind: April 27, 2023
Transmission alternatives for California north coast offshore wind: May 25, 2022
- Video recording
- Slides: California North Coast Offshore Wind — An Introduction
- Slides: California North Coast Offshore Wind — Transmission Alternatives
- Download the reports
Exploring the Feasibility of Offshore Wind Energy for the CA North Coast
In the fall of 2020, our team hosted a series of five webinar workshops on the feasibility of offshore wind energy development on California’s north coast.
In each webinar, we shared topical findings from our recently conducted studies, followed by a moderated panel discussion, and then a community Q&A.
Energy Production and Delivery, and Economic Development (9/14/20)
Ecological and Geological Environment (9/21/20)
Port and Coastal Infrastructure (9/28/20)
Community Perspectives on Regional Impacts and Opportunities (10/5/20)
Reflections and Next Steps (10/19/20)
Production of this five-part offshore wind webinar series was supported by the Ocean Protection Council of the California Natural Resources Agency. The research studies were funded by the California Ocean Protection Council, the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.