First West Coast Offshore Wind Auction Brings in Bids Totaling $757M

Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, the sponsor of floating projects like the Pentland Floating Offshore Wind Farm (above), won the most valuable lease (CIP / Hexicon)

Published Dec 7, 2022 4:23 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has announced the results of the first-ever wind energy lease auction for the deep waters off the coast of California. Five companies bid a total of $757 million to secure five lease areas of 60-80,000 acres each. 

In addition to the cash bids, the lease sales included a 20 percent credit for bidders who commit to spending on workforce training programs for the floating offshore wind industry or the domestic supply chain. These credits add up to another $117 million in investments in the U.S. economy.

"Today’s lease sale is further proof that industry momentum – including for floating offshore wind development – is undeniable," said Secretary Deb Haaland. "A sustainable, clean energy future is within our grasp."

The winning bidders are all known players: the EDP/Engie joint venture Ocean Winds, Irish developer RWE, Norwegian oil major Equinor, Danish developer Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and privately-held U.S. renewables company Invenergy. All filed bids under the names of local LLC subsidiaries. 

The winning bids ranged in price from $130 to $174 million, with the highest bid going to a prime floating-wind site off Humboldt Bay.  Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) placed the winning bid for that site, adding to its portfolio on the East Coast - including the first-to-market development Vineyard Wind. 

"The future of offshore wind is floating, and we are proud to have taken this first important step in building an attractive floating offshore pipeline off the US West Coast," said CIP Senior Partner Torsten Smed.

Equinor, a pioneer in floating wind, said that its lease in the Morro Bay area has the potential for up to two gigawatts of generating capacity - enough to power about 750,000 homes. 

"The US West Coast is one of the most attractive growth regions for floating offshore wind in the world due to its favorable wind conditions and proximity to markets that need reliable, clean energy," said Molly Morris, President of Equinor Wind US. "The US is a key market for Equinor’s offshore wind activities and one where we aspire to be a leader in growing this new energy industry."