Notes of ‘The California Offshore Wind Project: A Vision for Industry Growth’ published by American Jobs Project

Here are a few things I learn.

The success of the first offshore wind project in California would be critical to pave the way for future projects.

Dialogue was kickstarted in 2016 by Trident Wind’s unsolicited federal lease request. After the public comment period ended in January 2019, BOEM will delineate Wind Energy Areas subject to environmental analysis, followed by a leasing process.

Stakeholders have different perspectives on the size of the first offshore wind farm in California. Some want a pilot-scale project to assess its environmental impact and verify its feasibility, while others push for a relatively large-scale project to be cost-effective in the energy market.

This publication shows the projection of California offshore wind development from 2019 to 2045 under two scenarios: status quo policy scenario and strategic growth policy. The main difference is policy intervention such as military use stance and state support.

This publication also lists the models from other offshore wind projects that can be learned and adjusted to California offshore wind projects. For instance, California governor could assign an offshore wind Czar who can appoint an California fisheries liaison, establish a public art fund for community education and cultural programs, develop an offshore wind tourism program, and even sponsor an offshore wind hackathon or pitch competition.

In addition, information about the energy market in California and new renewable technology is provided. For example, municipal utilities like Los Angeles Department of Water and Power procure land-based wind power, and large corporations like Google buy future land-based wind production from producers through power purchase agreement, direct ownership, and renewable energy certificate. Airborne wind is another option to harness wind energy by deploying flying blades or wings that are mounted with an onboard generator or tethered to a generator on the ground. One of leading developers of airborne wind developers is Alphabet subsidiary Makani.

Because offshore wind development is new to California, the state needs more informed perspectives on current research and a vision of future research. There are needs of comprehensive spatial analysis for environmental sensitivity, and studies to identify and weigh non-monetary variables like environmental impacts into the planning process.

Although this is not a peer-review publication, it provides some prospective of offshore wind development in California and gets me thinking my role in making Cal Poly a critical player in renewable development.

Floating solar power project in Taiwan’s fishing ponds

I didn’t know the existence of floating solar farms until I read the news of Google’s solar power project above fishing ponds in Taiwan.

Floating solar farms are more popular in Asia as Asian countries are more densely populated. Currently, China has the world’s largest floating solar farm, which includes 166,000 solar panels to power about 15,000 homes. It is installed on a lake that was once to be a coal mine.

The economic impact of a floating solar power project is certainly different from place to place. A group of Taiwanese researchers investigated the impact of solar panel installation above fish ponds on the production of clams and several fish species. They found that solar panels can keep water temperature more stable, resulting in increasing production of the fish species that prefer to live in colder water.

A floating solar farm can bring other benefits including the reduction of algae growth and evaporation. Hence, it is attractive to build floating solar farms especially on top of bodies of water that are not ecologically sensitive such as reservoirs and wastewater treatment ponds. As declining solar prices are expected to continue, there may be more floating solar farms around the world in near future.