To mitigate climate change, decarbonizing power systems is one of critical solutions. California government sets a goal to procure 100% electricity from renewables by 2045 (Senate Bill 100). A diversified energy portfolio with different forms of renewable sources can help achieve this renewable target and sustain the reliability of power systems. While offshore wind has become an important energy source in some countries, offshore wind development in California is at the planning stage as of writing (in 2021). Central California Coast contains two of three BOEM Call Areas, where commercial offshore wind development is most likely to occur. My study on offshore wind in this region answers questions about power potential and environmental impacts that can help inform stakeholders.
Assessment of wind data sets for offshore wind energy
Before estimating offshore wind resources, it is critical to identify the best wind data set along the Central California Coast, given that buoy measurements are unable to reveal wind speed across space and the best wind data set in other regions does not mean the best data set in this region. I evaluated the performance of multiple wind data sets, ranging from satellite observations to model simulations, in relation to buoy measurements and identified the best data set based on objective evaluation metrics.
- Wang, Y-H., R. K. Walter, H Farr, C. White, and B. I. Ruttenburg, 2019: Assessment of the wind data sets for estimating offshore wind energy along the central California coast, Renewable Energy, doi.org/10.1016/j.renene.2018.10.008.
Temporal and spatial variations in offshore wind power and its value
I used one of the best wind data sets identified by the previous study to estimate power production variations across space and time. The first study revealed the daily and seasonal patterns of offshore wind power, how they match with that of electricity demand and other variable renewable sources, and how the match influences the value of offshore wind power. The second study focused on potential power generated by offshore winds in the BOEM Call Areas by considering latest turbine technology and alternative planning scenarios.
- Wang, Y-H., R. Walter, C. White, M. D. Kehrli, S. Hamilton, P. H. Soper, and B. I. Ruttenberg, 2019: Spatial and temporal variation of offshore wind power and its value along the central California coast, Environmental Research Communications, https://doi.org/10.1088/2515-7620/ab4ee1.
- Wang, Y-H., R. Walter, C. White, M. D. Kehrli, and B. I. Ruttenberg, 2021: Scenarios for Offshore Wind Power Production for Central California Call Areas, Wind Energy, https://doi.org/10.1002/we.2646. Here is the link to my e-lightning presentation at AGU 2020 Fall Meeting.
Potential environmental effects of offshore wind development
In addition to wind resources, environmental and economical factors such as fishery are important to decision making in siting offshore wind farms. However, how offshore wind development affects and interacts with environment and fishery is unclear as there isn’t any operational offshore wind farm in the west coast of the United States. To answer this question, I am analyzing fishery data and other environmental data and will integrate them with offshore wind power data in order to identify high-value and low-impact sites for offshore wind development. This is an ongoing study, so please stay tuned for my update.
- Farr, H., B. I. Ruttenberg, R. Walter, Y-H. Wang, C. White, 2021: Potential environmental effects of deepwater floating offshore wind energy facilities. Ocean & Coastal Management, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2021.105611