The Port of Long Beach plans to build a new terminal on up to 400 acres that when completed would be the largest floating offshore wind turbine assembly system at a U.S. seaport, officials said.

Conceptual assessment for the project, Pier Wind, is expected to complete next year, said Mario Cordero, port executive director, in an address Jan. 26. The facility would aid the state goal of producing 25 GW of offshore wind energy capacity by 2045. Turbine assemblies taller than the Eiffel Tower would be towed to wind farms in central and northern California. 

This follows an announcement in December of the first-ever offshore wind lease auction off the U.S. West Coast, which will support California’s plan to transition to 90% clean energy by 2035 as well as the federal government’s bid to reduce the cost of floating wind energy by 70%.

The US Interior Dept. had completed an auction for five lease areas in Humboldt Bay and Morro Bay, off the northern and central coasts of California, respectively. The lease is the first U.S. lease sale supporting commercial floating offshore wind development in deeper Pacific Ocean water.

In his annual state of the port address, Cordero also announced a new “ZEERO” policy—Zero Emissions, Energy Resilient Operations Program—that would focus on developing renewable energy sources. 

He noted the establishment of the Green Port Policy in 2005, the first of its kind. “Our ‘moonshot’ is zero emissions” for port equipment by 2030, “and we are on track to accomplish the mission.”

Along with establishing dockside electricity hookups for ships, starting construction on a fourth rail track at Ocean Boulevard, and completing the Pier G-J Double Track Project, the port plans to begin in 2024 a $1.5-billion Pier B on-dock rail support facility project. It will spend $90 million a year to convert all heavy trucks from using diesel while providing charging infrastructure. 

Thanks to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers go-ahead, the port will deepen the Long Beach Approach Channel from 76 ft to 80 ft, ease turning bends in the main channel to deepen a wider area to 76 ft, deepen parts of the West Basin from 50 ft to 55 ft, construct an approach channel and turning basin to Pier J South with a depth of 55 ft, improve the breakwaters at the entrance to Pier J and deposit dredged material in nearshore sites for reuse or in federally approved ocean disposal sites.

Cordero noted that the Pier B project is expected to complete around the same time, 2030, as the $1.5-billion BNSF intermodal facility in Barstow, Calif. 

The city of Long Beach has also negotiated a Project Labor Agreement with the Los Angeles/Orange County Building and Construction Trades Council through 2023, Cordero said. This extends on an original five-year PLA agreement in 2015.

Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s state budget included $2.3 billion to fund green port goals, including $110 million for a goods movement workforce training campus at the Port of Long Beach, which plans to invest more than $2.6 billion in infrastructure projects over the next decade. 

The announcement comes as a new report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), projects that half of the support base for US offshore wind projects—ports, manufacturing plants and industrial vessels—could be delayed and put meeting the Biden administration offshore wind energy goal of 30GW by 2030 at risk.

Building the U.S. domestic supply chain by that date would mandate at least $22.4 billion in investment and could generate up to 49,000 jobs annually, the report said. It noted that the domestic capacity was needed to supply the growing U.S. market that could not depend on existing international facilities. 

“This road map lays out the challenges and collaborative actions needed to bring more domestic companies into the supply chain and the opportunity those businesses bring,” said Ross Gould, vice president for supply chain development and research at the Business Network for Offshore Wind, a trade group that also helped develop the report. 

Some new infrastructure expense would be offset by lower transportation costs and possible manufacturing funds and tax credits in the Inflation Reduction Act, NREL said, but higher labor costs remain a disincentive.