Wind power in California
Wind power has a long history in the state of California, with the initiative and early development occurring during Governor Jerry Brown's first two terms in the late 1970s and early 1980s. California's wind power capacity has grown by nearly 350% since 2001, when it was less than 1,700 MW. In 2016, wind energy (including that supplied by other states) now supplies about 6.9% of California’s total electricity needs, or enough to power more than 1.3 million households. Most of California's wind generation is found in the Tehachapi area of Kern County, California, with some big projects in Solano, Contra Costa and Riverside counties as well. California is among the states with the largest amount of installed wind power capacity. In recent years, California has lagged behind other states when it comes to the development of wind power. It and was ranked 4th overall for wind power electrical generation at the end of 2016, behind Texas, Iowa, and Oklahoma. As of December 31, 2016, California had 5,662 megawatts (MW) of wind powered electricity generating capacity.
Wind power in California has been an area of considerable activity for many years. California was the first U.S. state where large wind farms were developed, beginning in the early 1980s. By 1995, California produced 30 percent of the entire world's wind-generated electricity. However, this situation has changed and Texas is currently the leader in wind power development in the USA.
Historically, most of California's wind power output has been in three primary regions: Altamont Pass Wind Farm (east of San Francisco); Tehachapi Pass Wind Farm (south east of Bakersfield) and San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm (near Palm Springs, east of Los Angeles). A fourth area, the Montezuma Hills of Solano County, was developed in 2005–2009, with the large Shiloh Wind Power Plant.
The Alta Wind Energy Center is a wind farm located in Tehachapi Pass in Kern County. Kern County is reviewing a number of other proposed wind projects that would generate a combined 4,600 megawatts of renewable energy if approved.
|Thousand Megawatt-hours of generated|
energy since 2001
The graph at right shows the growth in wind generated electricity for California since 2001.
California had a total of 5,662 megawatts installed wind generation capacity, as of the end of December 2015. Wind energy (including power supplied from other state) now supplies about 5% of California’s total electricity needs.
In 2011, 921.3 megawatts of new production was installed. Most of that activity occurred in the Tehachapi area of Kern County, with some big projects in Solano, Contra Costa and Riverside counties as well. After leading the country for many years, California now ranks fourth nationwide in terms of capacity, behind Texas and Iowa, and Oklahoma. Due to higher average winds in the plains area of the U.S., California ranks fifth in wind generation.
In January 2018, the Tule Wind Project came online. Located in eastern San Diego County, the facility has 57 wind turbines which generate 131.1 megawatts and there are plans to expand it by an additional 24 turbines in the future. In its current configuration, the installation is able to power an estimated 40,000 homes.
In February 2018, Scout Clean Energy of Colorado won the rights to modernize the Gonzaga Ridge Wind Farm which is located in Pacheco State Park. Rated at 16.5 megawatts, the Gonzaga Ridge facility currently uses 1980s era wind turbines which are smaller, less cost-effective, and overall far less efficient at generating energy than those which currently being produced. The energy output of the installation after modernization is projected to be between 65 MW and 80 MW.
Offshore wind potential
A 2009 Stanford University study of California offshore wind potential identified a site off Cape Mendocino that could provide uninterrupted year-round power from a 1500 MW wind farm that would produce an average of 790 MW. Three types of offshore wind power were studied, with the conclusion that from 12,300 to 19,700 GWh/yr could be delivered from 1,997 to 3,331 MW of monopile wind turbines installed in up to 20 meter deep water, from 38,200 to 73,000 GWh/yr could be delivered from 6,202 to 12,374 MW of multi-leg wind turbines in 20 to 50 meter deep water, and from 462,100 to 568,200 GWh/yr from 73,025 to 91,707 MW of floating turbine foundation wind turbines in from 50 to 200 meter deep water, such as those being studied for use off the coast of Maine by the Ocean Energy Institute and the DeepCwind Consortium.
In April of 2018, several power development companies joined with Redwood Coast Energy Authority to explore the idea of creating a large-scale wind farm off of the Northern California coast. One problem that has hindered any prior development in the area off the coast of Humboldt County is the deep water, making the traditionally fixed turbines very difficult proposition. The group decided to propose the use floating turbines instead. RCEA and the development companies intend to file a lease with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management in the summer of 2018 for the 120-150 MW project. The Humboldt Project will be located just over 20 miles west of Eureka, California and estimates have the date of completion to be sometime in 2024.
|California Wind Generation (GWh, Million kWh)|
- Renewable energy in the United States
- Wind power in the United States
- List of wind farms
- Clipper Windpower
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