Offshore wind could support over 17,500 jobs in California

BERKELEY, CA – With some of the highest offshore wind speeds in the world, a floating offshore wind industry in California could dramatically increase in-state renewable energy generation and support more than 17,500 jobs in 2045. That’s according to The California Offshore Wind Project: A Vision for Industry Growth, a new report from the American Jobs Project in partnership with the Schatz Energy Research Center (SERC) at Humboldt State University, Pacific Ocean Energy Trust (POET), and BVG Associates.

“Offshore wind can spur a new wave of innovation in California that will support our climate goals,” said Mary Collins, Managing Director of the American Jobs Project and lead author of the report. “But in order to take full advantage of this important source of clean energy, California needs a coordinated state vision to create opportunities for workers and businesses and protect our environmental values.”

In 2018, policymakers set California on an accelerated path to 100 percent clean energy by 2045, creating a need for bold leadership to create more renewable energy generation options. Offshore wind can help California achieve a resilient, secure, and carbon-free energy future by improving grid stability and operational efficiency, tapping into rapidly decreasing costs and growing demand for the technology, and harnessing the state’s vast natural resources, while also fortifying the state’s international leadership on climate change. In addition, good-paying jobs in offshore wind could be filled by workers transitioning from the fossil fuel sector.

“California’s coast offers some of the highest wind resource potential in the country, and offshore wind could produce more than 1.5 times the electricity the state currently uses in one year,” said Arne Jacobson, Director of the Schatz Energy Research Center. “This report provides useful guidance to policymakers and stakeholders for the effort to develop this important source of renewable energy in a way that respects our vibrant coastal ecosystem and maximizes benefits to the local economy.”

Based on extensive research and stakeholder outreach, The California Offshore Wind Project finds that:

  • California’s offshore wind industry could support over 17,500 jobs in 2045. This figure includes direct jobs from manufacturing and software development, indirect jobs from suppliers, and induced jobs from spending in the local economy.
  • With deep waters and some of the highest wind speeds in the country, the Golden State has 112 GW of technical offshore wind resource potential, meaning it has the potential to produce 1.5 times as much electricity as California uses in one year.
  • California has the eighth-highest net technical energy resource potential in the United States, which suggests that full utilization of its offshore generation potential could exceed New York and New Jersey, two states that have already made significant investments in the technology.
  • The offshore wind industry is projected to grow 25 percent annually through 2022 due to falling costs and efficient electricity generation during peak demand.
  • California is well-positioned to tap into this market growth given its 100 percent carbon-neutral energy goal, and growing interest from leading European offshore wind developers.

The report provides short and long-term strategies that take advantage of this unique economic opportunity. Recommendations include:

  • Setting a market acceleration target and establishing a comprehensive approach to offshore wind studies to guide early development, survey potential impacts on coastal ecosystems, consider innovative financing mechanisms, and reduce red tape;
  • Establishing a phased approach to offshore wind workforce development to build a diverse and inclusive workforce, formalize partnerships between industry and training providers, and invest in offshore wind safety training;
  • Aligning innovation and access to capital policies with industry needs and promoting offshore wind research collaboration, knowledge exchange, and business development
  • Upgrading ports and establishing port innovation districts to support evolving technology and workforce needs; and
  • Appointing a California Offshore Wind Czar to coordinate activities among state agencies, foster community programs, advocate for procedural changes in the federal leasing process, build international relationships for knowledge exchange, and capture foreign direct investment opportunities.

Visit the American Jobs Project website to read the report.