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Wind Energy: RWE Successful in California’s Floating Offshore Wind Auction

Essen, Germany / San Francisco, USA - For a long time, the markets in European countries such as Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK were the cradle of offshore wind energy, but now the expansion is gaining momentum worldwide. This is also benefiting the energy company RWE, which has achieved an important auction success in the USA.

While China has managed to leap to the top of the global offshore wind energy markets within a few years, development in the USA is only slowly catching up. But here too, against the backdrop of government expansion plans, huge market growth is on the horizon for the next few years. With the award of the most recent US offshore tender for sites in the US state of California, RWE Renewables has reached an important milestone in the field of floating offshore wind farms.

RWE plans floating offshore project with up to 1,600 MW

The US Department of the Interior yesterday (07.12.2022) announced the results of the auction of five leases for offshore wind farms off the coast of California by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).

RWE secured Lease Are OCS-P 0561 with a winning bid of USD 157.7 million. The auction included five lease areas, all of which require the use of floating wind turbines due to water depths.

The area awarded to RWE is located 45 kilometres off the north coast of California in Humboldt Bay and has a water depth of 723 metres. According to RWE, the development area offers the possibility of realising a floating offshore wind project with a total capacity of up to 1,600 megawatts (1.6 gigawatts). As the next step in project development, RWE intends to perform offshore studies that will provide important information for determining the project design and submit applications for required permits. Provided the permitting schedule is met, the project could be operational in the mid-2030s.

“Our success in California is a milestone achievement, RWE’s first-ever awarded commercial scale floating offshore wind project. Building upon more than 20 years of pioneering the industry, RWE has also gained important experience from our floating demonstration projects investigating different foundations concepts", says Sven Utermöhlen, CEO Offshore Wind at RWE Renewables, welcoming the award. Utermöhlen believes RWE is well positioned to establish the company as a key player in offshore wind in the US, one of the most important strategic markets for the expansion of RWE's portfolio. "RWE has already been active on the ground in California, with our local team based out of San Francisco. We look forward to working together with the state of California and local communities to make meaningful investments that set the region up for long-term success", adds Sam Eaton, Executive Vice President Offshore Development Americas, RWE Renewables.

In early 2022, RWE entered the fast-growing US offshore wind market with a successful bid in the New York Bight auction. Through the joint venture 'Community Offshore Wind', RWE secured a 3.000 MW (3 GW) lease area off the coast of New York and New Jersey.

About the tender of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management in the USA

The current BOEM tender for Pacific sites off the California coast is the third major offshore auction in the US this year and the first ever for the Pacific region. The BOEM has offered for sale in the tender five lease areas totalling about 373,300 hectares, including two areas off Humboldt Bay and three off Morro Bay off the coast of Northern and Central California, respectively. According to the US government, the leased areas have the potential for the construction of floating offshore wind farms with a total capacity of more than 4,600 MW. At the auction, RWE and four other companies submitted high bids with a total volume of USD 757.1 million, which is significantly higher than the first lease sales in the Atlantic.

The auction is highly significant in achieving the offshore expansion goals of the US and California governments. The Biden-Harris Administration plans to expand offshore wind to 30,000 MW (30 GW) by 2030 and to have 15,000 MW (15 GW) of floating offshore wind farms by 2035. California Governor Gavin Newsom's goal is also to reach a build-out level of 25,000 MW (25 GW) by 2045.

RWE on its way to becoming number 4 in the US renewable energy market

RWE is one of the world's leading companies in offshore wind. RWE currently operates 18 offshore wind farms worldwide with a total capacity of about 2,900 MW. The 342 MW Kaskasi project off the German island of Helgoland, where RWE is using the world's first recyclable rotor blades from Siemens Gamesa, is due to come on stream at the end of the year. In addition, one of the world's largest offshore wind farms, the 1,400 MW Sofia project, is currently under construction in the UK.

The market in the USA is central for RWE. Here, the energy company operates onshore solar and wind power plants with a total installed capacity of 4,500 MW (4,5 GW). RWE also recently announced an agreement to acquire Con Edison Clean Energy Businesses, Inc. The transaction marks a milestone for RWE's growth ambitions in the United States. With the closing of the transaction, scheduled for the first half of 2023, RWE says it will become the number 4 renewable energy company in the US.

Source: IWR Online, Dec 12 2022