West Coast Offshore Wind Transmission Study

Investigating transmission options to support offshore wind development along the nation's West Coast through 2050

Cable on sea floor

Image: National Renewable Energy Laboratory

The West Coast Offshore Wind Transmission Study is a 20-month study to investigate transmission options that will support offshore wind development along the nation’s West Coast through 2050.

The study launched in May 2023 and is co-led by wind energy experts from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. It is funded through the Inflation Reduction Act and is overseen by the Department of Energy’s Wind Energy Technologies Office.

In the study, researchers are evaluating ways to achieve offshore wind energy goals that support grid reliability and resilience as well as ocean co-use.

Video: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

The objectives of the study are as follows:

  • Resolve pathways for offshore wind generation and transmission development across the West Coast in support of state and federal clean energy goals through 2050.
  • Build nodal representations of offshore transmission and generation.
  • Specify points of interconnection and cable routes.
  • Resolve nodal representations of the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) in 2035 and 2050 to meet existing adequacy, contingency, steady-state, and transient stability requirements.
  • Evaluate these systems under resilience events.
  • Quantify the changes to capital cost, production cost, emissions, resource adequacy, and resilience characteristics of the system.
  • Quantify socioeconomic impacts and benefits to coastal and ocean co-use communities.
  • Perform relative valuation of various offshore transmission topology strategies in 2050.

The study is addressing gaps identified in a PNNL-developed report as a part of an earlier project, “West Coast Offshore Wind Transmission Literature and Gaps Analysis.”