Floating wind turbines might soon be placed off of the coast of California. The Seattle energy company of Trident Winds has filed initial environmental documents in the proposal of developing a wind farm of 100 floating turbines.
The project is still in its infancy, and it could be more than a decade before the turbines are up and running. However, there is some precedent. Last week, Norwegian gas and oil company Statoil received permission to construct the world’s first ever floating wind farm off of the coast of Scotland. It is expected to be operational by the end of 2017.
California is desperately seeking methods of renewable energy. By 2030, the state will require that half of all electricity be obtained from renewable sources. The state will certainly face a hefty price tag in this regard.
The floating turbines will reportedly rely on the same floatation methods that are used by offshore oil platforms. This will allow them to operate greatly beyond the limits for turbines that are placed on fixed foundations. Also, by placing the turbines further out at sea, the wind farm will receive a much more consistent and stronger airflow.
The floating wind farm project from Trident Winds would be placed offshore from the coastal city of Morro Bay, which is located between Santa Cruz and San Luis Obispo. The turbines would be 194 meters tall, and they would be placed about 15 miles offshore.
Offshore wind turbines have existed in Europe since 2007. Since then, the offshore turbines have only continued to increase in size. The idea of floating wind turbines has long appealed to energy experts due to the associated increased airflows.
Since 2013, another energy company, Princple Power has been working on a proposal to develop a floating wind farm off of the coast of Oregon. This proposal has largely stalled because of the costs involved. The associated price tag is simply more than utility companies in Oregon are willing to pay.
As for the project in California, a major concern will be that of environmental impact. Trident Winds will likely have to prove that the wind turbines will not be harmful to the marine environment before they will be given the green light. Studies in Europe have shown that offshore wind farms only have a small impact on seabirds. However, the proposed wind farm is expected to have a major effect on fishing.
For now, Trident Winds will continue to push towards the project, but it could still be many years until anything gets accomplished.