The Co-Benefits of California Offshore Wind Electricity

Posted on by Stephen Gee

California has set forth an ambitious goal of generating all its electricity from carbon-free technologies by 2045. Offshore wind (OSW) presents several attractive system, economic, and environmental attributes to help the state achieve these goals. Inclusion of OSW into the clean electricity generation portfolio could contribute significantly to total resource cost savings. In addition, OSW offers several major co-benefits. Its high and consistent capacity factor and generation time profile complements that of solar and helps enhance renewable electricity generation reliability. OSW could also be instrumental in early retirement of costly and pollution-heavy natural gas plants and lead to substantial job creations. Moreover, California could reap additional economic co-benefits from the development of a local wind energy industry. Additionally, OSW has the potential to advance environmental justice through reduction of ordinary air pollutants in urban areas and by bringing economic opportunities to lagging areas. At the same time, there are multiple challenges that must be addressed for OSW to reach its full potential. Our analysis is intended also to serve as a template for studies elsewhere by providing a comprehensive
framework for estimating co-benefits, taking account of important local conditions, and identification of challenges and how they might be overcome.

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