The solution, as Weinstein sees it, is to build floating turbines. Offshore wind follows a progression that oil and gas companies charted with drilling rigs: moving from onshore to offshore to floating installations, Weinstein said.
Weinstein has been involved in some of the world’s first floating wind demonstration projects, including a 50 megawatt installation in Scotland. In total, about 125 megawatts of demonstration projects have been installed worldwide and another 125 megawatts are under construction.
And the pipeline is growing fast. In total, more than 60 gigawatts of offshore wind projects worldwide are in the planning stages, with South Korea, the UK, Australia and Brazil among the top countries with planned capacity.
A milestone, and what follows
Now, California is joining the list of governments jumping into the floating wind farm game.
The state auctioned off 370,000 acres of ocean, which was divided into five sites in two areas off the California coast. The sites are in water up to 1,300 meters deep and will require floating wind technology. My colleague James Temple posted a story about the auction earlier this week.
Companies bid for sites that could collectively house enough wind turbines to generate up to 4.5 gigawatts of electricity, enough to power more than 1.5 million homes. In total, the sites sold for $757 million, with the largest site fetching nearly $174 million.
The auction represents a new phase for floating offshore wind. Less than a decade ago, Weinstein told me at EmTech, people didn’t take technology seriously when he proposed plans to build farms in the state. “People looked at me and said, ‘you must be crazy, why are you doing this, this isn’t going to work,'” he said.
Now, companies could begin in earnest on the path to building floating wind farms in the United States. But the auction is only one of a series of many steps between conception and power generation. Companies have years of planning and construction before they start generating electricity from the sites. Just getting the permits could take five to seven years.