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Cal Poly’s facilities and faculty/student knowledge present a premier ecosystem for supporting offshore wind (OSW) studies and development on the Central Coast. 


From developing an approach to more accurately estimate the energy generation potential of OSW farms along the Central Coast, to overlaying that potential with California's temporal energy needs, to analyzing the environmental impact of an offshore wind farm, Cal Poly's local expertise is significant.

Our guiding Learn By Doing philosophy has created an ideal atmosphere to turn offshore wind power generation ideas into reality.  Companies that are helping grow California's clean energy portfolio can be connected to faculty and student research and expertise while utilizing the University's facilities and infrastructure for supporting offshore wind research and development.

To view a directory of Cal Poly offshore wind faculty resources, click here.


How OSW Works

Student doing experiment


OSW promises renewable, environmentally friendly power that aligns favorably with California's energy needs.

How OSW WorksLearn more about OSW and why it's such an attractive solution.

Cal Poly OSW Research

Cal Poly OSW Research


Cal Poly researchers have deeply analyzed the local wind lease area and potential impacts of an OSW installation.

Learn more about the work that Cal Poly researchers have done to study OSW feasibility and impacts.


Cal Poly OSW Facilities

Various Scientific Concepts


Cal Poly has ideal facilities for OSW studies and implementation on the Central Coast.

Learn about Cal Poly facilities that can facilitate OSW development.

OSW Economic Impact

OSW Economic Impact


OSW development on the Central Coast will be a significant driver of the local economy.

Learn more about the economic impacts of OSW implementation on the Central Coast.




Source: BOEM, California Offshore Renewable Energy Fact Sheet. February 22, 2017

Why is OSW so attractive from a power generation standpoint? In short, it promises a renewable, low-impact, effective means of meeting California's growing electrical demands.

The Central Coast is desirable not only for its wind profile, but also because of the existing 500 kilovolt transmission lines, shown as thick red lines in the map below, that currently terminate at the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, very close to the Morro Bay Wind Lease area. After the anticipated decommissioning of Diablo, these lines present ready transmission capabilities for an offshore wind farm:




One of the main benefits of OSW is that it exhibits a favorable generation profile that coincides with peak electrical demand in California, represented by the black line in the normalized graphs below.  While solar generation (red line, below) peaks mid-day, onshore wind (green line) and offshore wind (blue line) peaks often coincide with peak electrical demand, with offshore wind demonstrating the most favorable generation profile of the three renewables:

Source: Spatial and Temporal Variation of Offshore Wind Power and its Values Along the Central California Coast, Wang et al., DOI 10.1088/2515-7620/ab4ee1


It is because of this favorable generation profile and low environmental impact that OSW is such an exciting prospect along California's Coastline. Cal Poly's expertise and facilities offer an ideal combination to facilitate its development on the Central Coast.


Examples of OSW Studies and Resources at Cal Poly:


Wind Area and impact Analysis:

"Spatial and Temporal Variation of Offshore Wind Power and its Values Along the Central California Coast" by Yi-Hui Wang, Ryan K. Walter et al. ( Provides a framework to investigate how offshore wind power varies along the Central California Coast over diurnal and seasonal time scales, which is critical for reliability and functionality of the grid system. 

Geotechnical Analysis of Morro Bay Wind Energy Area by Dr. Rob Moss (pages 4 and 5 of newsletter)

"Assessment of surface wind datasets for estimating offshore wind energy along the Central California Coast" by Yi-Hui Wang, Ryan K. Walter et al. - ScienceDirect: Comprehensive assessment of near-surface wind datasets for Central California, seasonal and diurnal error metrics and spatial differences analyzed, framework for assessing wind data products for offshore wind energy.

"Scenarios for Offshore Wind Power Production for Central California Call Areas" by Yi-Hui Wang, Ryan K. Walter et al. ( This study provides a comprehensive characterization and comparison of offshore wind power potential within the two Central California Call Areas (Diablo Canyon and Morro Bay) using 12- and 15-MW turbines under different inter-turbine spacing and wind farm size scenarios. 

"Potential environmental effects of deepwater floating offshore wind energy facilities" by Yi-Hui Wang, Benjamin Ruttenberg et al. - ScienceDirect: Identifies potential environmental effects of offshore floating wind turbines. Using the available scientific literature concerning appropriate analogs, including fixed-bottom OWFs, land-based wind energy facilities, wave and tidal energy devices, and oil and gas platforms, we conducted a qualitative systematic review to estimate the potential environmental effects of deepwater, floating OWFs during operation, as well as potential mitigation measures to address some of the effects.


Turbine Design and Mechanics:

"Offshore Wind Turbine Gearbox" by Michael Cooper, Ernesto Portillo et al. ( The purpose of this project is to design an epicyclic gearbox fit to take in the torque loads from the slowly rotating rotor shaft and successfully output a significantly faster rotating motor shaft to allow more accessibility to generator options including ones with far fewer poles. The motivation here being that the precious metals used in the magnetic poles are scarce and very expensive. 

"Shallow-Water Wind Turbine Foundation" by Andrew Walker, Nico Nani et al. ( Over the 2021-2022 academic year, we, the Shallow Water Wind Turbine Foundation senior project team, designed, manufactured, and tested a fixed bottom, sand mounted turbine foundation for the Cal Poly Wind Power Club’s Collegiate Wind Competition turbine. 

"Final Design Report Cal Poly Wind Power - Balancing System" by Caleb Seth Cross and Ethan Andrew Czuppa: In this report, we discuss the preliminary research conducted regarding wind turbine rotary systems and rotational imbalances. Furthermore, we will break down our understanding of the project and our approach to completing it, as well as our ideation and down-selection processes. Then, we will detail our plans to cheaply manufacture and accurately balance the wind turbine. Finally, we will outline the next steps needed to thoroughly verify the final design, as well as officially balance the completed 2021 wind turbine. 

"Cal Poly Wind Power: Wind Turbine Prototype" by Sophie A. Spencer, Maggie Nevrly et al.: Our senior project team is one of several design teams contributing to the CPWP prototype turbine design including the pitching mechanism, blade design, generator, and shaft. The scope of this project is to design the yaw mechanism, tower, and nacelle. The goal is to create components that function well with other planned components and are easily manufacturable due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 


Other Resources:

Cal Poly Wind Power Research Center: Brings together faculty, undergrad/grad students, and industry partners to conduct applied research and education in support of the wind power industry. 

Economic_Value_OSW_REACH.pdf Summary of economic impacts of offshore wind along Central California coastline (Cal Poly faculty contributors).

In addition to our Center for Coastal Marine Sciences expertise, our engineering faculty and student researchers have experience in other marine energy systems. One example is Vladimir Prodanov and Peter Schuster's team of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering students working on wave energy systems to power reverse osmosis for isolated coastal community drinking water. This team's application to the Marine Energy Collegiate Competition was accepted, and they will receive a total of $20,000 to support the team's participation and build a prototype.

Cal Poly Wind Power: A student-formed and student-led group of wind power enthusiasts.

Local diurnal wind-driven variability and upwelling in a small coastal embayment: The oceanic response to high-frequency local diurnal wind forcing is examined in a small coastal embayment located along an understudied stretch of the central California coast. We show that local diurnal wind forcing is the dominant control on nearshore temperature variability and circulation patterns.

Seasonal variability of upwelling and downwelling surface current patterns in a small coastal embayment: In this study, we apply a conditional averaging technique to investigate upwelling- and downwelling-driven circulation in a small coastal embayment located in Central California (San Luis Obispo Bay). We also investigate intraseasonal differences in the current patterns.


Cal Poly OSW Facilities


When it comes to our facilities, the on-campus Tech Park is an ideal location for companies to locate themselves in order to be in constant connection with University resources in wind energy and central to the Morro Bay wind lease area. This expertise can facilitate feasibility and impact studies for companies involved in OSW area leasing in the coming years.

Cal Poly’s Tech Park expansion and Cal Poly Pier modernization efforts represent shovel-ready, permitted, master-planned facilities that are ready to assist with both offshore wind and wave energy research and implementation leveraging university faculty and student research and expertise. Investment in these two university facilities is a prime accelerator for economic growth in the region and Cal Poly is poised to be an early and significant resource for private and public sector development in these emerging sectors.

To date, Cal Poly’s Tech Park has created over 750 high-tech jobs supporting over 50 companies and creating $60 million in economic impact to the region. The Phase I Tech Park completed in 2010 has provided an 11x return on investment. The Cal Poly Tech Park is a facility dedicated to developing the intersection between student/faculty research and development and corporate workforce and innovation needs. Upcoming expansion will add an additional 100,000-120,000 square feet across multiple buildings in direct support of emerging high-growth, high-wage industries on the Central Coast such as Ag-Tech, Alternative Energy, Aerospace, and Biotechnology. The expanded Tech Park is expected to result in over 900 additional jobs, $150 million in annual economic impact, and continue the progress made by Cal Poly over the past decade in the innovation-entrepreneurship ecosystem that is an integral part of a broader regional economic development strategy. Combined with other regional investments, it is anticipated that the Tech Park expansion project will support $1 billion in planned private sector investment in the clean tech sector over the next decade. See more at


The Avila Beach-based Cal Poly Pier offers ocean access to companies engaged in OSW lease area studies and development. Critical information technology, water, and electrical utility upgrades are planned to expand the ability of the pier to capitalize on upcoming development opportunities. The Cal Poly Pier has already played a key role in marine research and testing highlighted by the following select projects: Subsea Electronics and Instrumentation Testing; Sonar-based Underwater Leak Detection Testing; Scale-model Wave Energy / Upwelling Systems Testing; Induced Upwelling Testing; Infrared Camera Testing; Bioluminescence Detection; Loading and Unloading of Seismic Survey Equipment; Radar Altimeter Testing; Polymer Film Degradation Testing; Testing/Deployment of Underwater Camera Apparatus.

Cal Poly’s Center for Coastal Marine Sciences has over 40 faculty and staff, 150 undergrad students, and 20 graduate students engaged to strengthen future relationships with other research institutions, community organizations, industries, and policymakers to supply sound scientific solutions to issues in marine science along the California Central Coast and beyond.



OSW Economic Impact


The Morro Bay wind lease area covers 376 square miles located northwest of Morro Bay: Link to Map

Cal Poly professors Dr. Cyrus Ramezani and Dr. Stephen F. Hamilton, in conjunction with research assistants Christopher Almacen and Ben Stephan, have analyzed the economic impacts of an OSW installation on the Central Coast and prepared an extensive economic impact report for REACH (Regional Economic Action Coalition).  It is viewable here: Economic_Value_OSW_REACH.pdf (


Morro Bay Lease Area Economic Impact Summary:

  • 617 SLO County jobs and $254.4 million of economic output projected with 3GW installation maintained in perpetuity
  • 11,825 SLO County jobs and $2 billion of economic output created for port construction
  • $21.34 million in local tax revenue generation


Nationwide, it is estimated that the offshore wind industry will need an average of between 15,000 and 58,000 full-time jobs per year from 2024-2030. These jobs are estimated to be good-paying jobs in manufacturing, installation, port and vessel operations, ongoing wind farm operations, and maintenance.


Interested in utilizing our expertise and/or facilities related to OSW?  Contact:

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