West Coast Offshore Wind Transmission Literature Review and Gaps Analysis

Closing the gaps to bring offshore wind energy to the nation’s West Coast

Image: National Renewable Energy Laboratory

The results

The project

Offshore wind energy is an emerging resource for producing clean, renewable energy across the United States, helping to achieve the Administration’s goal to create a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and an eventual 100 percent decarbonized economy by 2050.

Offshore wind energy has the potential to help optimize existing electricity transmission systems and bolster coastal grids. While a significant offshore wind development pipeline has rapidly emerged on the Atlantic Coast during the past few years, offshore wind developers are now beginning to pay increasing attention to potential sites along the Pacific Coast. However, interconnecting large wind farms to coastal substations and transmission infrastructure may pose technical, economic, and policy challenges that need to be considered alongside the development of new electricity generation assets.

A variety of studies have focused on interconnection and transmission of offshore wind energy—ranging in time horizon, scale, and geographic focus—in the Western Interconnection. Additionally, many cost modeling efforts have occurred during the late 2010s and early 2020s. However, no comprehensive efforts have been undertaken to review these studies and identify gaps from a whole system perspective.

Following the Atlantic Offshore Wind Transmission Literature Review and Gaps Analysis and initiation of the Atlantic Offshore Wind Transmission Study and Atlantic Offshore Wind Convening efforts, DOE initiated a literature review of West Coast offshore wind transmission research to date.

Supported by the Department of Energy’s Wind Energy Technologies Office, wind energy experts at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory led the project to review existing literature focusing on the technical evaluation of offshore wind energy transmission through potential points of interconnection located along the coastlines of California, Oregon, and Washington.

The study took into consideration existing and emerging state policies and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management wind site lease activities. It was also informed by current analysis by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory of Southern Oregon and Northern California offshore wind power transmission, which has unearthed current perspectives of transmission system operators and their requirements to meet reliability standards and mitigate threats to system resilience.

The dynamics associated with transmission infrastructure development and generation mix evolution in the Western Interconnection also informed the gaps assessment.

Identification of these gaps will help guide future research efforts related to offshore wind energy on the West Coast.


Travis Douville,, (971) 940-7112