CLEE Policy Briefs

The Current Planning, Policy, and Regulatory Landscape of OSW in California

OSW is an emerging industry on the verge of substantial growth in the United States. OSW energy has unique and considerable value for transitioning to a carbon-free energy system. First, OSW would be sited near coastal high-density populations, delivering electricity to where it is needed most. Though OSW energy generation is somewhat variable in that it depends on the wind to blow, winds offshore are much stronger and more consistent than those on land. In addition, OSW is strongest in the evening—precisely when demand is typically the highest and when other renewable sources, most notably solar power, begin to drop off. OSW is unique amongst renewable resources in that it is consistent enough to meet baseload generation needs, which are today met primarily by fossil fuel resources. Beyond meeting clean energy goals, the OSW industry can bring considerable economic and social benefits, including promoting green economic development, creating multiple in-state job opportunities, and advancing energy equity. Central to California’s strategy to achieve carbon-neutrality by 2045 is a complete shift to a carbon-free energy system and OSW could be crucial given the state’s goals. The challenge for California will be to develop offshore wind energy in an inclusive, sustainable way that truly engages with stakeholders and fairly balances the concerns of environmentalists, the fishing, renewable energy, and tourism industries, organized labor, and tribal and local communities. 


View CLEE’s brief on this topic here.