A newly released study from Energy + Environmental Economics (E3), the leading experts on California’s electricity market and the clean energy transition, has found that offshore wind off the coast of California could save California ratepayers up to $2 billion on a net present value basis by 2040 through the installation of 7-9 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind. The entire study can be found here.

Key Findings

Providing Renewable Energy

Offshore wind plays a major role in all scenarios modeled in the study, which finds that California will need between seven and nine GW of offshore wind to meet its clean energy and climate goals by 2040. This represents enough energy to power four million homes and meet approximately 10 percent of the state’s electricity needs.

Cost Savings

Delivering clean, reliable power on a 24-hour basis will require investment in both energy storage, to shift excess solar power to the time of day when it is needed most, and in renewable resources that continue to generate energy once the sun goes down. Offshore wind offers consistent generation throughout a 24-hour period.

Modeling results across all scenarios found that including offshore wind in the state’s energy mix would produce ratepayer savings of up to $2 billion on a net present value basis by 2040. The study also evaluates offshore wind relative to other resource options including out-of-state onshore wind (e.g., from Wyoming or New Mexico), and finds that offshore wind remains a valuable part of a least-cost portfolio of resources, even if out-of-state wind is developed in the future.

Meeting Clean Energy Policy Goals

California has some of the most ambitious clean energy and climate goals in the world. With the passage of the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32) and Governor Jerry Brown’s 2005 Executive Order S-03-05, the state has committed to reducing its GHG emissions to 40% and 80% below 1990 levels by 2030 and 2050, respectively. Additionally, SB 100, passed in 2018, increased California’s targets to 60% renewable energy supply by 2030 and 100% GHG-free energy supply by 2045.