A pilot floating offshore wind project near the California coast has been approved by the U.S. Dept. of Defense (DOD), the first of several steps needed by the 60-MW project that would be located near the Vandenberg Space Force Base.
Vandenberg, in Santa Barbara County in central California, has long been used by the U.S. space program as a launch site for NASA and SpaceX spacecraft. The base—which previously was known as Vandenberg Air Force Base—also is used as a launch pad for the military’s intercontinental missiles, as well as housing regional military radar.
Floventis Energy, a joint venture of U.S. renewables firm Cierco and SBM Offshore, a Dutch offshore oil and gas group, received DOD approval for its plan to install four 15-MW turbines in state waters near Vandenberg. The project will be located about 2.8 miles off Point Arguello, adjacent to the base. The turbines will reach a height of 870 feet (265 meters).
A ‘Big Step’ for California Offshore Wind
“This agreement is a big step, both for our project and for the California offshore wind industry,” said Mikael Jakobsson, director of Floventis Energy, in a statement. The Floventis project, known as CADEMO, could be operational as soon as 2026 or 2027 if it proceeds as planned.
Floventis on its website notes that California “needs a pilot project before taking the gamble of suddenly putting hundreds of turbines in the new Pacific Ocean environment.”
Jakobsson noted that agreement between Floventis and the DOD “helps create a testing and verification process to ensure that offshore renewable energy can coexist with national security.” The deal defines a series of what are known as “de-confliction protocols” for the four turbines to operate in what is a busy airspace off the coast.
Multiple Reviews and Permits
The Floventis project needs multiple federal and state reviews, including environmental assessments, to move forward. Floventis’ agreement reached this week commits the DOD and the Air Force to file non-objection letters with the Federal Aviation Administration, along with other federal and state agencies, to support the permitting process for CADEMO.
State officials in California have said they want as much as 5 GW of offshore wind generation capacity installed off the coast by 2030, with an eye toward reaching 25 GW of capacity by 2045.
The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which regulates energy development in federal waters, in December 2022 auctioned five leases in two separate wind energy areas, or WEAs, off the central California coastline at Morro Bay, and in waters off Humboldt County.
—Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine). (This story has been updated from its original version.)