FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Castle Wind is committed to creating an open line of communication throughout project development. Below you’ll find a list of frequently asked questions based on conversations with stakeholders like you.
Don’t see your questions answered below?
What is offshore wind?
Offshore wind is the wind resource available off the US coastline in the open ocean. Offshore wind resources are abundant, strong and blow more consistently than most land-based wind. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that the technical resource potential accessible in state and federal waters could be as high as 4,000 GW. While not all of this resource potential will be developed, the magnitude (approximately four times the combined generating capacity of all existing U.S. electric power plants) represents a substantial opportunity to generate clean and renewable electricity near coastal high-density population centers.
What is Castle Wind LLC?
Castle Wind LLC is a joint venture between Trident Winds Inc., a Seattle based company, and EnBW North American Inc. Castle Wind was created to help bring a floating offshore wind farm with a proposed 1,000 MW capacity of clean, renewable energy to California.
DOESN’T CALIFORNIA ALREADY HAVE OFFSHORE WIND?
Although California typically leads on climate and renewable energy issues, the state is late to the game on offshore wind. Offshore wind has already taken off in Europe, Asia, and now the United States. Governors from New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and others are embracing this new renewable energy source —setting offshore wind targets, creating new programs, and recruiting firms to their state. While not the first state in the U.S. to deploy offshore wind projects, California is well positioned to lead the deployment of floating offshore wind turbines on the Pacific Coast. We have a diverse workforce, the brightest minds in the technology, engineering, and environmental communities; and strong offshore wind resources. Because offshore wind is ready to be deployed and firms want to invest in our state, it is time to seize this opportunity.
IS OFFSHORE WIND NEEDED IN CALIFORNIA?
With the passage of SB 100, coupled with a growing demand for electricity in the transportation sector, California will see a significant increase in demand for renewable energy. California will need between 15 to 25 GW of new renewable energy generation between now and 2030 and as much as twice that amount by 2045. Offshore wind is an abundant renewable energy resource with a high capacity factor and a production profile that is complementary to the demand and other renewable energy sources. It can be built near demand centers and existing transmission infrastructure, offering valuable grid-management benefits and diversity of supply.
WHAT TECHNOLOGY WILL BE USED FOR THE PROJECT?
All three top turbine suppliers – GE, Siemens and MHI-Vestas have commercially available offshore wind turbine generators (OWTGs) larger than 8 MW, with GE leading the industry with a 12 MW turbine. A number of floating support structures are expected to be available for commercial use at the time of the project construction, please consider the construction to take place from 2025 to 2027.
IS OFFSHORE WIND ENERGY COST COMPETITIVE?
Over the last 30 years, the cost of energy from land-based wind farms has fallen dramatically as technology and construction methods have improved. These accomplishments lead to the reduction of wind energy cost that is now on par with other sources of energy generation. Though offshore wind is new in the U.S., over 15,780 MW of offshore wind have been installed in Europe through the end of 2017. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that offshore wind costs, like land-based wind costs, will decrease significantly by 2025. Castle Winds’s energy prices are projected to be competitive in the California market by 2025 and thereafter.
WHAT ARE THE ECONOMIC BENEFITS FROM THE PROJECT?
The success of offshore wind projects on California’s Central Coast will have widespread positive economic impacts on the entire Central Coast region – a region that has experienced severe economic impacts associated with the recent closure of the Morro Bay Power Plant and will now be hit even harder with the planned closure of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant, the largest private employer and taxpayer in the area. The closures of these power plants have brought into sharp focus what is at stake in the local region: the loss of high-paying jobs and critical tax revenues. Historically, the central coast region underperforms when compared to national and state averages in terms of underemployment. Underemployment is eight times worse than the state average, and the cost of living is more than 30 percent above the national average.
WHAT KIND OF LOCAL JOBS WILL THIS PROJECT CREATE?
Castle Wind’s proposed Morro Bay project is an important opportunity to diversify and revitalize the local economy. The Project will require a ready workforce ranging from engineers, construction personnel, technicians, tugboat operators, and much more in order to support project construction and operation. The ultimate extent of the economic contribution of the Castle Wind’s project will be quantified as detailed project plans are developed.
HOW MUCH OF THE PROJECT WILL BE BUILT AND SERVICED LOCALLY?
Due to the size of the offshore wind components, fabrication of the floating offshore wind systems (FOWS) will take place at a ship building facility with adequate staging areas. The final assembly of the FOWS will be done as close to the installation site as possible but will require a deep-water port. Due to the environmental and depth constrains the Morro Bay harbor will not be suitable for the assembly of the FOWSs. Once in service, we expect the Castle Wind Offshore operations and maintenance personnel to live locally and work and service the project from nearby shore-based facilities. The Morro Bay harbor will be used as a staging port for the project operation and maintenance.
WILL THE BIRDS AND THE MARINE LIFE BE AFFECTED BY THE PROJECT?
Floating offshore wind projects are among the most environmentally friendly in generating electricity from a renewable energy source. Castle Wind’s Morro Bay project site will be located over 30 nautical miles offshore from Point Estero in a 2600 to 3600 feet water depth. In selecting the proposed site, Castle Wind sought to minimize impacts to migrating whales and other marine life through, for instance, siting the project outside of known whale migration corridors.
After obtaining a lease from BOEM, Castle Wind will be conducting site characterization and environmental impact studies as part of state and federal permitting requirements, such as the National Environmental Policy Act and the California Environmental Quality Act, among others. These studies will provide data to establish environmental baseline information, and additional monitoring will continue throughout the life of the project. Castle Wind has been engaged in conversations with BOEM, NOAA, environmental groups, and fishing groups to ensure that the selected site area avoids, minimizes and mitigates operational impacts.
HOW DO OFFSHORE WIND AND FISHING CO-EXIST?
The Castle Wind Offshore project team has been engaged in dialogue with the Morro Bay Commercial Fishermen Organization and the Port San Luis Commercial Fishermen Association since the project inception in mid 2015. Based on information provided by these groups, Castle Wind has endeavored to locate the project outside of major fishing grounds. Castle Wind will continue to work with the local fishing groups, among others, to ensure co-existence with other ocean activities in the area.
HOW DO FLOATING OFFSHORE WIND SYSTEMS WEATHER STORMS?
Floating offshore wind systems are designed to safely operate under the ocean conditions prevalent at the selected site.
WILL THE WIND FARM BE VISIBLE FROM SHORE?
Castle Wind appreciates and understands the value and beauty of California’s pristine coastline and ocean views. That is why our project is being planned and designed with that in mind. The site location – which will be more than 30 miles offshore – was selected to minimize its impacts on marine life, commercial fishing and its visibility from shore.
Based on the Coast Guard Light List volume Vi, Pacific Coast and Pacific Islands, 400 feet tall structures will not be visible by an observer at the sea level at distances greater than 23.4 nautical miles – Castle Wind Offshore will be more than 30 miles offshore, and thus, out of the projected visibility range.
WHEN WILL CASTLE WIND OFFSHORE BE OPERATIONAL?
Creating an offshore wind industry in California will require significant time and investment. It is unlike any industry we have seen, as it calls for collaboration between an unprecedented number of agencies and stakeholders across the federal, state, and local levels. Because wind farms will be installed in federal waters but interconnection and affiliated activities are under state jurisdiction, the offshore wind planning process requires a joint effort between the state and federal government.
Castle Wind is currently in the site control acquisition phase of the project. Once a site lease is secured from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Castle will begin conducting environmental impact reports and securing development permits.
WHAT IS THIS I’M HEARING ABOUT AN ISSUE WITH THE MILITARY?
The Morro Bay Call Area identified by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has been identified as an area with military conflicts by the U.S. Navy. Castle Wind continues to enthusiastically support the military mission and will not back any activities that threaten that mission. However, we believe that California’s world-class offshore wind is a renewable resource that we cannot ignore. Additionally, we are certain that both naval operations and offshore wind can live in harmony to produce new sources of renewable energy without sacrificing national security. Castle Wind is currently working with the Department of Defense, along with other local, regional and state stakeholders to come to a positive resolution of the issue.
Where can I learn more about offshore wind legislation in California?
Assembly Bill 525 was introduced by Assembly members Chiu, Cunningham and Friedman on February 10, 2021 to develop a strategic plan to achieve a goal of at least 10,000 megawatts of offshore wind energy developments installed off the California coast by 2040, with an interim target of 3,000 megawatts installed by 2030.
You can view the proposed bill in its entirety here.