The Biden administration announced more than $757 million in winning bids for the first major auction of offshore wind development rights in California.
The auction, the third major offshore wind lease sale in the country this year, is part of the US government's pledge to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030.
The winning bidders were RWE Offshore Wind Holdings, Equinor Wind US, Invenergy California Offshore, California North Floating (Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners), and Central California Offshore Wind (Ocean Winds).
They will be able to deploy wind turbines on five lease areas that total around 373,268 acres off California’s coastlines.
Equinor said that it could potentially develop up to 2GW of capacity, as did Ocean Winds. RWE said that it could deploy 1.6GW, Invenergy put it at about 1.5GW, and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners said around 1GW.
That is a total of around 8.1GW - although the sites may not be fully built out.
Much of the potential space would require floating turbines, a technology that has only been used in small-scale pilot projects in Europe.
“Floating wind is so much harder and more expensive [than fixed bottom]," Samantha Woodworth, senior wind energy analyst for research consultancy Wood Mackenzie, told Recharge.
The publication noted that the auction raised less than the previous sales due to the uncertainty and cost of the new technology.