Secretary Zinke announces new leases off Massachusetts together with offshore wind action in California

Secretary Zinke spoke at the close of the American Wind Energy Association offshore wind conference in DC last week and used the occasion to make a few announcements.

But before he got there, he started by saying “Environmentally, the world is changing” and then adding “I’m bullish on wind“. He also talked about the offshore wind industry and said that one of its greatest attributes is its youth which brings with it fresh minds and new approaches to problem solving. Word!

The Secretary made two major announcements,

  • Massachusetts. On Thursday 13 December, three lease blocks offshore Massachusetts will be auctioned. The leases cover 390,000 acres of seabed and could support the installation of more than 4,000 MW of wind. This much wind energy could generate 30% of the Bay State’s electricity. The lease areas are shown in the chart to the right: they are the pink and purple blocks (Block No. 0520 & 0521 respectively) as well as the green block (No. 0522). The Final Sale Notice, published by BOEM in the Federal Register,  contains a list of 19 ‘Eligible Bidders’ i.e. companies that are deemed qualified to participate in the bidding process. In other words: there is significant interest and this will be one to watch.
  • California. The Secretary also announced that he was “Opening up California to offshore wind” and on the 19 October, BOEM duly published a Call for Information and Nominations. The purpose of the call is to obtain nominations from companies interested in commercial wind energy leases within the three proposed areas off central and northern California which are shown in the schematic to the right. The three call areas are Humboldt in the North together with Morro Bay (in brown) and Diablo Canyon (in blue) in the south-central region. This is NOT a leasing announcement.The waters off California get very deep very quickly. As a result all the projects currently being considered utilise floating offshore wind turbines. This technology is quite different from the projects being considered for the east coast. All of which are in relatively shallow waters (less than 60 metres) and so will all be fixed, almost certainly with steel foundations, to the seabed. The following graphic illustrates the difference between the fixed and floating concepts.

So, and even though it has been a busy year, offshore wind shows no sign of slowing down as we move towards year end.