Revealing report published on California’s offshore wind sector

California’s offshore wind industry can fill its workforce training needs largely through negotiated labour contracts with unions, providing access to the state’s well-honed apprenticeship system. Workforce gaps, however, will exist in the offshore marine services as a result of legal and regulatory hurdles.

Those were among the key findings in a new, state-funded report, titled “Trial Run for California’s Offshore Wind Workforce: A report on lessons learned from the CADEMO High Road Training Partnership”.

The report, issued by an alliance of industry, labour and academia, is based on empirical, hands-on planning for California’s first offshore wind project: CADEMO, a Floventis-owned project, in northern Santa Barbara County.

CADEMO is a demonstration project comprising four full-size, 15MW floating turbines in state waters off the coast of Vandenberg Space Force Base. It is expected to be operational in late 2027, years before the initial, larger-scale projects planned for federal waters.

The report noted that California’s offshore wind developers should start negotiating with labour unions sooner rather than later. Negotiating a master Project Labor Agreement (PLA) for CADEMO took two years, and the five winners of the federal government’s 2022 offshore wind auction will find the process to be complex.

In terms of the supply chain, it said, the most difficult needs for supply chain and workforce are in the marine sector: the launching of floating platforms from wharf into water, the final turbine integration, and the anchor and cable-laying.

The report noted that California will be unable to manufacture the turbine components—towers, nacelles, and blades—and these must be imported from out of state. However, the construction and assembly of floating offshore platforms could and should take place in California. This will require the state and federal governments to focus quickly on upgrading port facilities.

In terms of job creation, it projected that CADEMO will create a total of 697 jobs statewide during the construction phase, and 16 annual jobs in the Central Coast region during the long-term operations phase. The Cal Poly analysis also projected that each one of the three, gigawatt-scale projects in the federal Morro Bay offshore wind zone will create 10,025 construction jobs statewide and 494 long-term operations jobs locally.

Mikael Jakobsson, Director, Floventis Energy, the owner and developer of CADEMO, said: “The findings of this report are an example of why CADEMO is a crucial steppingstone for the successful evolution of California’s offshore wind industry. Our four, full-size turbines will develop early knowhow and provide lessons learned for workforce training, supply chain, environmental mitigation, and stakeholder relations that will be needed to de-risk and smooth the road for the much larger projects that will come in later years.”