Assessment of Offshore Wind Energy Leasing Areas for Humboldt and Morro Bay Wind Energy Areas, California

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is providing scientific and technical services to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) under an interagency agreement. The purpose of this report is to provide technical assistance in delineating potential lease areas from the California wind energy areas (WEAs) that can be competitively auctioned to wind energy developers. Each wind energy area is presumed to be technically and economically feasible for wind energy development based on the economic cost study performed by NREL in 2020. The subsequent analysis summarized in this report is intended to help BOEM maximize efficient offshore wind energy resource use and ensure fair return to the Government for use of the lease areas, by making recommendations for viable ways to divide the WEAs into auctionable commercial lease areas of approximately equal value. We considered several factors that affect the value of lease areas for wind energy development, including mean wind speeds, water depth, seafloor gradient, seismicity, hard substrate, and access to infrastructure. The largest impact to generating capacity came from the choice of mooring technology and the resulting setback from the lease area boundaries. Based on our setback assumptions, the generating capacity for a wind plant using catenary moorings could be nearly 30% less than with vertical moorings in Humboldt, or approximately 20% less in Morro Bay. The likely range of generating capacity is 1.5 to 3 GW in Humboldt and 3 to 5 GW in Morro Bay.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages85
StatePublished - 2022

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5000-82341


  • California
  • lease areas
  • offshore wind
  • offshore wind energy


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