The Biden administration has struck a deal with the Department of Defense to open the California coast to wind power. The coast of California is richly endowed with wind, which can be harnessed for carbon-free energy. The agreement ends a stalemate between the government and the Department of Defense.
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The California coast holds the potential to produce a significant amount of energy, according to Wind Exchange Energy data. However, the Department of Defense had previously blocked attempts to explore this area for offshore wind on the grounds that the coast is used for training. With California’s ambitious target of cutting carbon emissions, the new agreement opens an avenue for the state to explore wind power to reach its goal.
The agreement has identified two sites off central and northern California to be open to offshore wind. Both sites have the potential for adding massive floating turbines with the capacity to produce 4.6 gigawatts of electricity. This is enough clean energy to power 1.6 million homes.
“It’s an announcement that will set the stage for the long-term development of clean energy and the growth of a brand-new, made-in-America industry,” said national climate adviser Gina McCarthy. “Now we’re thinking big and thinking bold.”
In 2017, the U.S. Navy released a map placing much of California waters off-limits. However, negotiations with the Department of Defense has led the department to compromise with a 399-square-mile area off Morro Bay. The site is not only appealing because of its wind power potential but also due to the availability of existing transmission lines that once serviced an old power plant.
“It’s our view that the world faces a grave and growing climate crisis,” said Colin Kahl, undersecretary of defense for policy, as reported by NPR. “Climate change is both a threat to the Department of Defense’s operations around the world and an existential challenge to our ability to maintain resilience here at home.”
The Biden administration plans to jumpstart the country’s offshore wind power by generating 30 gigawatts of energy by 2030.
Image via Norbert Pietsch