Report Details Offshore Wind Power Challenges

Photo: Ford, Brad

Floating offshore wind facilities could help Oregon achieve its clean energy goals but face challenges ahead of potential deployment off the state’s coast, according to a new report by the Oregon Department of Energy.

The first renewable offshore wind facilities came online in Denmark in the 1990s and have since been installed in shallow waters across the world. Now, experts are looking at how offshore wind facilities could be deployed in deeper waters by affixing wind turbine technology to floating platforms. Off the Oregon coast, which has some of the strongest wind resources in the world, deeper sea floors would require floating offshore wind technology.

The Oregon Legislature directed ODOE to conduct a study outlining the benefits and challenges of integrating up to 3 gigawatts of floating offshore wind into Oregon’s grid by 2030. The agency’s study provides a summary of important information and key findings from a review of existing literature; consultation with other state, regional, and national experts; and thoughtful feedback from Oregon stakeholders over the past year.

The study found that floating offshore wind could bring compelling benefits to the state, including helping Oregon achieve its clean energy goals, strengthening grid reliability and resilience, and bolstering economic development in coastal communities, among others. The study also acknowledges significant challenges, including concerns about the effects potential offshore wind development could have on coastal communities, the environment, natural and cultural resources, and existing coastal industries like fishing, recreation, and tourism; technology, transmission system, and port infrastructure readiness; and complex siting and permitting challenges.

“Like all energy technologies, floating offshore wind development would carry important tradeoffs for Oregon,” said ODOE Director Janine Benner. “We hope our study provides policy and decisionmakers with helpful background and expert analysis as they continue conversations around how floating offshore wind could help Oregon reach our clean energy and climate goals.”

While a thorough literature review and robust expert and stakeholder input provided a strong foundation for ODOE’s study, it also made clear there is a need for further study, engagement, and collaboration to more fully understand how floating offshore wind could affect the state. In particular, stakeholders urged additional regional and local collaboration to find a balance between the benefits and challenges of deploying this technology. The potential benefits are compelling, but it is critical that the effects on existing economies, cultures, communities, and the environment are carefully assessed and mitigated where necessary.

ODOE’s complete study, background materials, and stakeholder feedback are available on the agency’s website.

Source: Oregon Department of Energy

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