Friday July 1, 2022

San Francisco Chronicle

As sites for two massive wind farms are due to be leased soon off the California coast, conservationists are concerned whether renewable energy development can coexist with whales, seabirds and a lucrative fishing industry.

That’s partly what scientists who spent five days on the research vessel Fulmar last week were trying to find out. They set out along the Big Sur coast on a foggy morning to collect underwater sounds of baleen whales, porpoises, dolphins and other marine mammals that call the area home.

Their research is part of dozens of studies being done in anticipation of the lease of a 376-square mile site about 20 miles offshore Morro Bay for wind energy development. Last year, the Biden administration and Gov. Gavin Newsom approved the site and a smaller location off Eureka (Humboldt County) that will be up for auction at the end of this year. The sites have the potential to produce at least 4.6 gigawatts of energy per year, enough to power 1.6 million homes. The first projects of their kind on the West Coast, they fit into California’s ambition to derive all of its power from carbon-free sources by 2045.

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