April 19, 2023

New West Coast Study Unveiled for Offshore Wind Transmission

20-month project will help address constraints that limit offshore wind development on West Coast

Cable on sea floor

The new 20-month study will examine how the nation can expand transmission to harness power from floating offshore wind for West Coast communities.

(Image: National Renewable Energy Laboratory)

Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm announced on February 22, 2023, that the Department of Energy (DOE) has launched the West Coast Offshore Wind Transmission Study.

The new 20-month study—led by wind energy experts from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory—will examine how the nation can expand transmission to harness power from floating offshore wind for West Coast communities. The findings will be used to help develop plans through 2050 to address transmission constraints that currently limit offshore wind development in the deep waters of the Pacific Ocean—while supporting grid reliability, resilience, and ocean co-use.

The study will leverage part of the $100 million in funding received by DOE under the Inflation Reduction Act for offshore wind and interregional transmission analysis. The study also supports the Floating Offshore Wind Shot, which was launched by the Departments of Energy, the Interior, Commerce, and Transportation in 2022 to reduce the cost of floating offshore wind energy by more than 70 percent and deploy 15 gigawatts by 2035.

The announcement followed the release of a PNNL-developed report outlining gaps and observations the wind industry needs to address for West Coast offshore wind energy. For this report, the PNNL team concentrated on 13 existing studies about the technical evaluation of offshore wind energy transmission through potential points of interconnection along the coastlines of California, Oregon, and Washington.

Animation: Stephanie King | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

The gaps analysis considered existing and emerging state policies and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) wind site lease activities, like the recent buoy study off the coast of California. It was also informed by ongoing PNNL analysis of offshore wind power transmission in Southern Oregon and Northern California.

Secretary Granholm’s announcement also highlighted new research investments and collaborations, including PNNL’s recent partnership with BOEM to deploy a research buoy 15 miles off O’ahu to collect offshore wind meteorological and oceanographic measurements.

The buoys are funded by the DOE Wind Energy Technologies Office and managed by PNNL.

Published: April 19, 2023