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California offshore wind turbine auction nets $757 million

Private companies spent $757.1 million on Wednesday, to secure offshore rights to floating wind turbines in California, the Department of the Interior said in a release on Wednesday. File Photo by Teun van den Dries/Shutterstock
Private companies spent $757.1 million on Wednesday, to secure offshore rights to floating wind turbines in California, the Department of the Interior said in a release on Wednesday. File Photo by Teun van den Dries/Shutterstock

Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Private companies spent $757.1 million on Wednesday, to secure offshore rights to floating wind turbines in California, the Department of the Interior said in a release on Wednesday.

The department issued leases to five separate companies through an auction, which raised the second-highest total amount in U.S. history.

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Floating turbines are an emerging technology that can provide power when coastal waters are too deep for standard turbines to be affixed to the ocean floor. To date, the technology is primarily used in Europe.

Wednesday's auction represents the third major offshore wind lease sale this year and the first ever in the Pacific region.

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The five leases auctioned by the department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management cover about 373,268 acres off California's coastlines.

Leases are located off the Central Coast near Morro Bay, Calif., and the area around Humboldt County off the Northern California coast.

Once constructed and fully operational, the projects on those leases could produce power to supply more than 1.5 million homes, the agency said.

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The two-day sale is part of President Joe Biden's goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy capacity by 2030 and 15 gigawatts of floating offshore wind capacity by 2035.

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Invenergy California Offshore, Central California Offshore Wind and Equinor Wind US all secured over 80,000 acres, while California North Floating and RWE Offshore Wind Holdings both came away with over 63,000 acres.

The companies will have the right to build the technology on those leases going forward.

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The federal government announced a $4.37 billion sale of six offshore wind leases earlier this year, off the coasts of New York and New Jersey.

"The Biden-Harris administration believes that to address the climate crisis head on, we must unleash a new era of clean, reliable energy that serves every household in America. Today's lease sale is further proof that industry momentum - including for floating offshore wind development - is undeniable," Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said in a statement on Wednesday.

"A sustainable, clean energy future is within our grasp and the Interior Department is doing everything we can to ensure that American communities nationwide benefit."

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