Industry & job pathways

Building a new industry on such a huge scale is an unprecedented challenge for California. An early project like CADEMO can have a pivotal function in leading the way.

Delivery options of floating offshore wind

The options for fabricating floating platforms can be divided into three scenarios. Given the current state of ports readiness (described more in detail below), the first option is defined as the Default, where it represents the California infrastructure situation currently. Options 1 and 2 are dependent different levels of industry deployment: whether concrete or steel facilities are mobilized to the West Coast, and whether port infrastructure is in place to meet market targets. The outcome also will depend on whether California offshore wind developers can produce power at suitable prices in a very competitive electricity marketplace.

Default Case

In the Default case, there is no local competitive industry or any port facilities in place. Accordingly, the floating foundations either will be brought in from other U.S. locations or will be imported. This forms the low case for local jobs.

Option 1

This option assumes that ports facilities are in place, but sub-components like larger welded steel components are imported. Final assembly would then take place locally in the available ports. This forms a medium case for local jobs.

Option 2

Local fabrication of each device is the most rewarding option for local jobs. This is the high benefits scenario that would maximize new jobs. This option could favor concrete-based platforms designs because California lacks a high-capacity steel industry to enable local fabrication of steel-based platforms design.

Commercial projects by 2030

Constructing multiple floating foundations of the size used in the CADEMO project will be a huge industrial endeavor. Each floating platform will be the size of a football field, and the turbines’ upper wingtips will reach 870 feet high. This will launch a new industry that could eventually provide thousands of jobs statewide in the decades to come, depending on the delivery options above. Unlike fixed-bottom offshore wind, which has open-access designs like  monopiles and jackets, the floating sector has over 40 individual platforms technologies, all with individual fabrication requirements, investors, intellectual property, and other factors. Accordingly, the floating sector in California will require where multiple independent fabrication ports and facilities in parallel. As mentioned above, it is not a foregone conclusion that all the floating sector’s jobs will be created in California. East Asian suppliers enjoy major advantages through their mature and well-equipped port facilities, and their lower costs of materials and labor.

Taking the High Road

Together with the State Building and Construction Trades Council, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and other organizations, CADEMO has been awarded a three-year grant by the state Workforce Development Board to create a High Road Training Partnership (HRTP) for California offshore wind.

This HRTP will explore available options for maximizing in-state, unionized jobs and community benefits from the CADEMO project as well as the statewide offshore wind industry in future years. Our HRTP will tackle head-on the oft-ignored reality in offshore wind policy discussions: As discussed above, the sector’s much-promised “green jobs” will not materialize automatically. The offshore wind industry is highly globalized and competitive, and concerted effort and cooperation by government, industry, and local stakeholders will be necessary to ensure that Californians truly benefit.

HRTP report available highlighting lessons learned in labor relations, supply chain, ports and jobs, and overall impact on the state’s economy.

Supply chain and ports

One difficulty for the offshore wind industry is the fact that the state currently has no suitable port infrastructure with capacities required for offshore wind floating foundation construction and assembly, and it has no experienced and competitive industrial supply chain capacity to provide the multiple hundreds of foundations and the thousands of sub-components for each unit. Unless and until this is resolved, the future development of commercial-scale projects will most likely be done primarily with imported products.

Over the last couple years, CADEMO has been working with the state’s  ports, selected construction firms, industrial specialists and marine service providers – as well as labor unions – to help create a holistic understanding of a high-road pathway, including the need for facilities and industrial capacity to provide high-wage, sustainable jobs to build a local industry.