Schwarzenegger Institute Webinar Highlights California’s Offshore Wind Opportunity

The Schwarzenegger Institute hosted a webinar on August 18th on their recently released "California’s Offshore Wind Electricity Opportunity” report and what the research means for California in its quest to reach ambitious renewable energy targets.

Schwarzenegger opened the webinar by stressing that the state has been a world leader on clean air for decades, but that work is not finished.

“We’ve got to move forward until every California kid can breathe clean air,” Schwarzenegger said. “That’s why I’m so proud to highlight another innovative clean energy solution at the Schwarzenegger Institute. Offshore wind has great potential to provide a huge amount of clean energy. It is something that will save us all.”

Former state Sen. Fran Pavley, the Environmental Policy Director of the USC Schwarzenegger Institute, moderated the virtual discussion.

“Businesses, labor, community advocates, local state and federal government officials will all need to work together to increase energy efficiency and to accelerate the transition to cleaner sources of energy,” Pavley said. “I think we can all agree that wind energy is part of the solution and our future, so let’s get to it.”

Rose and Wei gave a briefing of their report on California’s offshore wind potential.

David Hochschild, Chair of the California Energy Commission, explained that offshore windmills would be located 20-to-30 miles offshore, where wind’s energy can be harnessed significantly better than on land. By complementing solar, it will help California get off fossil fuels even faster.

“The prospect of putting offshore wind turbines off the coast of California has all kinds of benefits,” Hochschild said. “I would argue that after rooftop solar, offshore wind is the single lowest-impact form of energy generation in the world.”

Chiu gave an update on AB 525, his bill to jumpstart California’s offshore wind industry. After passing the Assembly by a vote of 71-1 in May, the bill currently sits in the Senate Appropriations Committee. He hopes it can get approval on the Senate floor within the next couple of weeks and return to the Assembly for concurrence.

“We have access to one of the world’s greatest untapped sources of renewable energy,” Chiu said. “Offshore wind has the potential to combat climate change, meet our clean energy goals that (Sen. Pavley and Gov. Schwarzenegger) helped us set, and provide good paying jobs.”

Also participating in the discussion were Eddie Ahn, executive director of environmental justice nonprofit Brightline Defense, and Jonah Margulis, senior vice president of Aker Offshore Wind.

Margulis said it was realistic to see the first floating windfarm in California within four-to-seven years. Advocates hope to reach three gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030 on the way to hitting 10 gigawatts by 2040.

“Goals are really important but having data to drive those policy decisions is just as if not more important,” Friedman said. “And having reports like has been generated by the Schwarzenegger Institute that give us some of those data points will help us develop those roadmaps that we can follow.”

Schwarzenegger said their work would not stop until smog is something our kids read about in history books.

“This wind energy that we’re talking about here will be another powerful weapon in our fight to terminate pollution once and for all,” Schwarzenegger said.