Floating Wind to Drive U.S West Coast Port Developments

Copyright creativenature.nl/AdobeStock
Copyright creativenature.nl/AdobeStock

In recent State of the Port address, the first held since 2020, the Port of Long Beach’s Executive Director Mario Cordero discussed the port’s plan to support California’s emerging floating wind industry.

The Port of Long Beach has not yet been identified as a marshalling port for any one project. However, under its Zero Emissions, Energy Resilient Operations Program (ZEERO), the port is working on the design of a staging and integration facility for floating offshore wind turbines which is known as Pier Wind. The initial conceptual design is planned to be completed in April 2023.

Long Beach is aiming to support floating wind projects in Morro Bay and off Humboldt as part of California’s goal of producing 25 GW of offshore wind power by 2045.

There are currently no purpose-built ports to support floating wind farm development in California. Ports have been identified, but most, if not all, currently lack the facilities to develop floating wind projects. We envisage that there will be six broad port functions required to support commercial scale floating wind farms:

• Geotechnical survey base: There are currently no major barriers to existing West Coast ports supporting the geophysical and geotechnical surveys that will characterize project activities over the coming five or so years.

• Substructure construction facilities: Five general substructure concepts are grouped into three floating technologies – semi-submersible, spar and TLP. Steel and concrete semis and spars have been demonstrated. Steel substructures can be made from structures suited to shipyard construction or large tubulars suited to manufacture in tower and monopile factories, either in the U.S. or imported from overseas. Concrete structures, suited to local content, can be cast in-situ or assembled from components bought in from off-site. Now these substructures are physically very large. Take a V-Column semi, you might need 6,000-8,000 square meters for each substructure which will weigh around 2,500-5,000 tonnes if built from steel. A hanging counterweight semi may need 7,000-8,000 square meters and weigh around 4,000 tons if steel and 20,000 tons if concrete. A concrete spar buoy will weigh more than 12,000 tons and require a very deep draft assembly port. A large commercial project can require 50 or 60 of these structures.

• Integration quay (where turbine is mated with substructure): A marshalling area of around 200-300,000 sq. m. is required to store turbine nacelles, blades and towers manufactured off-site. A 100-150 meters long strengthen launching quay will be needed to transfer most structures from shore to a submersible barge for floating off into the water. Given that the turbines that sit on top of these floating structures will have rotor diameters of 200 to 240 and even 260 meters, an assembly quay of up to 300 meters long will be required. If a spar buoy is selected, a sheltered slip-forming berth with up to 100 meters water depth is required.

• Wet storage of these large floating wind turbines is required once completed but not delivered to site.

• Mooring cable bases: Large marshalling ports will be needed for mooring components (anchors, chains, wires, ropes and tendons), dynamic array power cables and, if required, export cables.

• Operations and maintenance base: To support crew transfer and service operations vessels during the 25-30 years of wind farm operation.
The Port of San Francisco has a clear development plan to support floating wind projects. For concrete substructures, the Port of San Francisco has identified Pier 94/96 as having 100,000 square meters of wharf space and 50,000 sq. m. of laydown areas, supported by CEMEX and Central large-capacity concrete production facilities. This will be supported by Pier 92. Further, for steel structures, the port has identified Pier 68-70, once the home of Bethlehem Steel and Iron Works. Pier 80 is a general breakbulk marshalling facility.

The Humboldt Bay Offshore Wind and Heavy Lift Marine Terminal project received State Land Commission funding to develop a heavy lift marine terminal along the Samoa waterfront. Humboldt Bay District and Crowley Maritime Wind Services have formed a JV company to build a full-service floating wind terminal at Marine Terminal II in Samoa. Development permitting is targeted for 2024.

The Humboldt Bay Harbor Recreation District has also issued a call for bids for site assessment and planning for the Offshore Wind Energy Terminal Master Plan for a 670,000 square meter site to be developed in multiple phases. The Master Plan covers the Redwood Marine Terminal and includes plans for blade and tower manufacturing plants, a marshalling yard for components, a substructure fabrication area, a large wharf and a purpose-built semi-submersible launch barge. The estimated cost of the initial development is $145 million.

Despite Port Hueneme being identified as the preferred main port location for two pilot projects in state waters, the Port’s 10-year strategy draft does not currently indicate plans to invest in developing infrastructure to support commercial scale floating wind projects.

The Port of is Angeles has also been identified as a potential offshore wind port. However, until now, no formal plans have been released to indicate development plans to support floating wind projects.

A 2022 study by Mott MacDonald on behalf of Simply Blue in partnership with Total Energies identified the Port of Coos Bay as a suitable location to support fabrication, assembly and mooring system marshalling for projects in Oregon and possibly northern California. The report identified upgrading work required. The developers estimate a $475 million investment is required in a new wharf, upland preparation area, storage facilities and dredging.

More details on port developments and U.S. offshore wind projects can be found in the latest monthly report in the U.S. offshore wind market produced by Intelatus Global Partners.

  • For more information about the Intelatus Global Partners, visit www.intelatus.com or contact the Author at +44 203-966-2492.

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