In late 2012, the US Department of Energy awarded Principle Power a grant to support the development of the WindFloat Pacific demonstration project in Oregon, as part of the Advanced Technology Demonstration Program. The 24 MW project featured 8 MW wind turbines sited in water depths averaging 450 m with the objective of advancing floating technology to unlock the enormous resource potential of the West Coast of the United States.
Although the project was eventually discontinued, it showcased the tremendous potential floating offshore wind brings to the US West Coast, where legislation is currently proposed to set targets of 3 GW by 2030 in Oregon and 10 GW by 2040 in California. The lessons learned from the WindFloat Pacific project are directly informing the development of the Redwood Coast Offshore Wind Project, located just 300 km south and expected to achieve first power by 2026.
Financing: US Department of Energy
Recognizing that over 80% of the US electricity demand originates from coastal states, the US Department of Energy launched the Advanced Technology Demonstration program in 2012 to support a portfolio of innovative offshore wind projects in several different regions and environmental conditions. These projects aimed at addressing key challenges associated with installing full-scale offshore wind turbines, connecting offshore turbines to the power grid, and navigating new permitting and approval processes. Principle Power’s WindFloat Pacific project in Oregon was one of three awardees to qualify for the second stage of the project and marked several achievements to the National Offshore Wind Strategy goals set by the US Department of Energy and the US Department of Interior.
The WindFloat Pacific project demonstrated the viability of floating offshore wind technology in the deep waters and severe metocean conditions that characterize the US West Coast and received Approval in Principle from the American Bureau of Shipping. The project further established the viability of harvesting the world-class wind resources offshore Oregon and that future commercial-scale projects could achieve a competitive price.
In addition to these technical achievements, the project partners completed significant work to advance the permitting process for floating offshore wind, receiving the first federal lease from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management for a floating wind project and conducting discussions with the key federal and state regulatory and resource agencies, as well as with important stakeholder groups. Collectively, these exchanges led to a mapping of the highest priority environmental interactions and the establishment of monitoring and mitigation strategies.