Floating wind energy could be on the horizon offshore Oregon, where the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) said on Aug. 15 that it has identified two draft wind energy areas (WEA).

Together, the WEAs—located in the Brookings and Coos Bay areas—cover more than 219,500 acres, ranging from 18 miles to 32 miles off Oregon’s coast, and have a potential to generate up to 2.6 gigawatts (GW) of energy, according to BOEM.

“Oregon has major opportunities for offshore wind deployment, which will create good-paying jobs and new economic activity,” BOEM said Aug. 15. “Due to the deep waters off of Oregon’s coast, these areas are also an opportunity to accelerate U.S. leadership in floating technologies.”

Aiming to reduce emissions and dependence on fossil fuels, the U.S. is targeting 30 GW of offshore wind energy capacity by 2030 and 15 GW of floating offshore wind by 2035.

BOEM Identifies Two Draft Wind Energy Areas Offshore Oregon
(Source: BOEM)

The U.S. is near the beginning of its floating wind journey, having held in December 2022 its first wind auction for development rights in the Pacific Ocean. Five wind leases were awarded in California’s deepwater Morro Bay and Humboldt Bay. More is expected as the U.S. also gears up for potential lease auctions in the Gulf of Maine. The Central Atlantic is also being eyed for floating wind.

Identification of the Oregon draft WEAs kick off a 60-day public comment period. The comments gathered will be considered when designating the final areas, BOEM said.

“As BOEM works to identify potential areas for offshore wind development, we continue to prioritize a robust and transparent process, including ongoing engagement with tribal governments, agency partners, the fishing community, and other ocean users,” BOEM Director Elizabeth Klein said.

As part of the process, BOEM said it will have public meetings to outline data and information used to inform the draft WEAs and to discuss next steps as well as an intergovernmental task force meeting. The public comment period ends Oct. 16.