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Oregon offshore wind developers rebuff push toward deeper waters  

Credit:  The viability of citing projects in deeper waters has emerged as a key question as two ‘calls areas’ are scrutinized. | By Pete Danko, Staff Reporter | Portland Business Journal | Jun 23, 2022 | www.bizjournals.com ~~

Offshore wind power developers are rebuffing Oregon seafood industry efforts to nudge their development opportunities into deeper waters farther off the coast.

The viability of siting projects in deeper waters has emerged as a key question after federal ocean energy managers outlined two zones, one off Coos Bay and the other Brookings, for leasing consideration.

Those “call areas” begin about 14 miles from the coast and extend from 46 to 65 miles offshore, with water depths ranging up to 1,300 meters. The seafood industry and backers, including the bipartisan Oregon Coastal Caucus, say development there could disrupt valuable fishing grounds.

“The best available data suggests (locating turbines beyond 1,300 meters in depth) would reduce the impact on the California Current and upwelling,” the group of state lawmakers said in comments submitted in an Oregon Department of Energy study process.

Upwelling brings colder, nutrient-rich waters closer to the ocean surface, helping produce good fishing conditions.

But at least two developers eyeing Oregon say the deeper waters aren’t currently realistic for offshore wind, even for the floating turbines that would need to be used in shallower, closer-to-shore waters.
Would ‘significantly increase the cost of a project’

“The ramifications of going deeper than 1,300 meters off the Oregon coast are not incremental but are a step-change with respect to the technical demands of both the mooring system and the export cable, which would significantly increase the cost of a project and the time horizon in which it would be economically viable,” TotalEnergies SB US said in its comments to ODOE.

The company cited “seafloor slope conditions” beyond 1,300 feet as a key limiting factor, a point echoed by Aker Offshore Wind.

“Oregon projects deployed beyond 1,300 meters would need to accommodate depths of approximately 3,000 meters to avoid the very steep and technologically challenging continental slope,” Aker said.

Some in the fishing industry have pointed to call areas off the U.S. Atlantic Cost that extend to depths of 2,600 meters. But Peter Cogswell, government affairs director for Total Energies SB US, said the industry wasn’t keen on those areas.

“You’re going to see comments that are consistent with our comments in the letter to ODOE,” he said.
TotalEnergies SB US plans to nominate areas

Comments to the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on the Oregon call areas are due by next Tuesday. Cogswell said TotalEnergies SB US would nominate zones within the call areas for leasing consideration. He was hopeful that narrowing the possibilities could ease concerns among ocean users.

“Right now, it’s so broad, 1,800 square miles, and everyone is reacting, and some people envision a huge impact,” he said. “We’re trying to say, ‘Look, here’s what we’re specifically interested in’ … then have some of the conversations with people about how did we do, what are further things we need to understand about these particular locations.”

The Oregon leasing process is part of a Biden administration effort to clear the way for 30 gigawatts of U.S. offshore wind power by 2030, enough to meet the energy needs of about 10 million homes.

Two to three of those gigawatts could be built off Oregon without the need for substantial transmission system upgrades, a national laboratory study showed. Advocates say climate change practically demands offshore wind come to Oregon, taking advantage of a superior natural resource, and say it would bring economic development to coastal communities.

Source:  The viability of citing projects in deeper waters has emerged as a key question as two ‘calls areas’ are scrutinized. | By Pete Danko, Staff Reporter | Portland Business Journal | Jun 23, 2022 | www.bizjournals.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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