Long Beach, Calif., unveils plans for biggest wind turbine facility at any US seaport

Southern California’s Port of Long Beach unveiled plans Tuesday to build the biggest offshore wind manufacturing facility at any U.S. seaport, aiming to churn out turbines as tall as the Eiffel Tower.

The future Pier Wind hub will accommodate the assembly of floating offshore turbines — a relatively new technology deployed in coastal zones where the water is too deep to support conventional structures fixed to the seafloor.

The turbines assembled for the floating offshore wind systems are expected to be up to 1,100 feet tall and generate a system capacity of up to 20-25 megawatts, according to the plans.

The $4.7 billion project will span about 400 acres on newly built land just southwest of the Long Beach International Gateway Bridge — with construction starting as early as 2027 and the site gradually opening from 2031 through 2035, per the plans.

“Imagine fully assembled wind turbines capable of generating 20 megawatts of energy towed by sea from the Port of Long Beach to offshore wind farms in Central and Northern California,” Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero said in a statement.

At the end of last year, the Biden administration held its first-ever auction for West Coast offshore wind energy facilities, enabling five companies to develop about 4.6 gigawatts.

The auction was also the first U.S. sale to support the development of commercial-scale floating offshore wind manufacturing.

Because Pacific waters deepen much more quickly than those off the Atlantic coast, using floating infrastructure is preferable for this region, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

The Biden administration has set a goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2030 and 15 gigawatts of floating offshore wind power by 2035.

California, meanwhile, has set a goal of producing 25 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2045.

Cordero maintained that the Port of Long Beach’s calm seas, lack of height restrictions and “direct access to open ocean” make it an ideal site to help meet these ambitious state and federal goals.

“No other location has the space to achieve the economies of scale needed to drive down the cost of energy for these huge turbines,” he said.

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