Distributed Energy Resources

DOE Expands Offshore Wind Transmission Program With West Coast Wind Study

The Department of Energy recently took another step in its effort to facilitate the development of transmission lines for wind farms in waters off the continental United States with the announcement of the West Coast Offshore Wind Transmission Study.

The announcement, by the DOE’s Grid Deployment Office and Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Wind Energy Technologies Office, calls for a 20-month study to detail transmission options to support offshore wind development in the Pacific Ocean along the U.S. West Coast.

The DOE said the study is part of a longer-term effort to convene meetings with state policymakers, local leaders, and private industry, and eventually report out key recommendations and an action plan for offshore wind transmission development on the West Coast.

The study is the first stemming from $100 million included within the Inflation Reduction Act for transmission planning and complements a DOE analysis in which the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory reviewed 13 existing studies that evaluate offshore wind energy transmission through potential points of interconnection along the coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington.

The analysis identifies gaps that industry needs to address to develop wind energy resources off the West Coast. The analysis also considers existing and emerging state policies and the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) wind site lease activities, like the buoy study off the coast of California.

The DOE and BOEM are working together to support the Biden administration's interagency goal of installing 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030 and the future deployment of 110 GW or more by 2050 and beyond.

The West Coast wind study was one of several announcements by the DOE on February 22, including new investments aimed at securing U.S. leadership in floating offshore wind development. The DOE also announced that California has become the seventh state to join the National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium, which will fund research and development projects that respond to critical, near-term offshore wind development priorities.

The Biden administration, through its Floating Offshore Wind Shot program, hopes to reduce the cost of floating offshore wind energy by more than 70 percent by 2035 and deploy 15 GW of floating offshore wind by 2035.

The DOE’s Wind Energy Technologies Office is already leading a two-year Atlantic Offshore Wind Transmission Study being conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and PNNL. The study will evaluate multiple pathways to reach offshore wind goals through coordinated transmission solutions along the Atlantic Coast under various generation mix and load futures in both the near and long term, 2030 and 2050, respectively.

The topologies and datasets derived from the study will identify benefits and shortcomings in production costs, system reliability, and resilience of specific transmission infrastructure concepts. DOE said those findings will fill research gaps and support timely and informed recommendations on offshore wind transmission strategies for the convening workshops, and offer feasible solutions that may benefit stakeholders in their planning processes.

DOE and BOEM said they plan to use the workshops and study to inform their development of a set of offshore wind transmission-focused recommendations and associated time-bound, regionally specific action plans for enabling solutions, starting with the Atlantic Coast.