The solution, as Weinstein saw it, was to build floating turbines. Offshore wind power is following the same progression that oil and gas companies have set out with rigs: from onshore to offshore to floating installations, Weinstein said.
Weinstein has been involved in some of the world’s first floating wind power demonstration projects, including a 50 MW installation in Scotland.A total of approximately 125 MW of demonstration projects have been completed Global installationand another 125 MW are under construction.
The pipeline is growing rapidly. A total of more than 60 GW of offshore wind power projects are in the planning stage around the world, with South Korea, the United Kingdom, Australia and Brazil being the countries with the largest planned capacity.
A milestone, what’s next
Now, California joins the list of governments jumping into the floating wind farm game.
The state auctioned off 370,000 acres of ocean, dividing it into five sites spanning two areas off the coast of California. These sites are located in water as deep as 1,300 meters and require floating wind technology. Earlier this week, my colleague James Temple published an in-depth report on the auction.
The sites the companies are bidding on could collectively house enough wind turbines to generate as much as 4.5 gigawatts of electricity, enough to power more than 1.5 million homes. Collectively, the sites sold for $757 million, with the largest site selling for nearly $174 million.
The auction represents a new phase in floating offshore wind. Less than a decade ago, Weinstein told me at EmTech that when she came up with plans to build farms in the state, people weren’t taking the technology seriously. “People looked at me and said, ‘You must be crazy, why are you doing this, it’s not going to work,'” she said.
Now, the company can begin its journey in earnest to build floating wind farms in the United States. But the auction is just one of a series of steps between ideation and generation. Companies have been planning and building for years before starting to generate electricity from these sites. It can take five to seven years just to get a license.