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Windfloat Atlantic Project

The project

The Windfloat Atlantic project developed an innovative technology for the exploitation of wind power at depths of more than 40m.

The innovative focus of the project was the design of a floating offshore wind, based on experience from the oil and gas industry, to support multi-MW floating wind turbines in offshore applications. The floating is semi-submersible and anchored to the seabed. Its stability is achieved via water entrapment plates at the bottom of the three columns, and a static and dynamic ballast system.

WindFloat Atlantic adapts to any offshore floating wind turbine and can be built onshore – including the installation of the turbine – thus avoiding the need to use scarce marine resources.

About the development process

The WindFloat Atlantic Project encompassed the design and construction of a demonstration unit using a commercial 2MW floating wind turbine. The unit was installed near Aguçadoura and connected to the grid at the end of December 2011. This was the first offshore wind project in the world that did not require the use of heavy-lift equipment offshore. It is also the first offshore with floating wind turbines in the open Atlantic and the first to deploy a semi-submersible structure that supports a multi-megawatt floating wind turbine.

The WindFloat Atlantic operated for five years and produced more than 17GWh of power at swells of up to 7m and survived swells of 17m.

Precommercial phase: Windfloat Atlantic

The next step in the development of WindFloat technology was the pre-commercial phase: WindFloat Atlantic Project (WFA) – a three floating wind turbines with a 25MW capacity located off Portugal’s north coast, about 20km from Viana do Castelo, where the water is up to 100m deep.

In October 2018 the European Investment Bank (EIB) awarded a €60m loan to Windplus SA, a subsidiary of EDPR (79.4%), Repsol SA (19.4%) and Principle Power Inc. (1.2%). This loan will finance the floating offshore wind with the support of the InnovFin Energy Demonstration Project facility, which is funded as part of the European Union’s (EU) research and innovation program Horizon 2020. The project also received €29.9m from the EU’s NER300 programme, and up to €6m from the Portuguese Government via the Portuguese Carbon Fund.

The fabrication and fitting out of the first WindFloat unit was completed in Fene (Spain), and the floating offshore wind was taken to Ferrol in mid-July 2019, with the wind turbine being installed that same month in the town’s outer harbor. This represented a significant milestone for the Windfloat Atlantic project and the floating offshore wind energy sector as this is the largest turbine to be installed on a floating platform. This first unit was towed from Ferrol to its final destination and successfully connected to the Portuguese national grid at the end of 2019.

The second and third platforms have since been delivered to Ferrol and the floating wind turbines are now installed.

The Team

The project owner is Windplus, which is jointly owned by EDPR (54.4%), ENGIE (25%), Repsol (19.4%) and Principle Power Inc. (1.2%). The wind farm’s three floating wind turbines will be mounted on floating platforms anchored to the seabed, and collectively will deliver an installed capacity of 25MW.

WindFloat Atlantic Project uses cutting-edge technology from Principle Power, which enables the installation of floating platforms in previously inaccessible deep water, where abundant wind resources can be harnessed.

In 2016, another project was approved in France, with four platforms using 6MW floating wind turbines mounted on the WindFloat Atlantic platform. The ‘Les éoliennes flottantes du golfe du lion’ (EFGL) project is being designed by Engie, EDPR and Caisse des Dépôts and should reach COD by 2020.

These two projects will demonstrate the low-risk profile and economic competitiveness of the technology, preparing the way for future commercial scale floating offshore wind farms.

Benefits 

The first of the three platforms in the Windplus consortium’s wind farm has been providing power to the Portuguese national grid since 31 December following the energization of the 20km cable connecting it to the Viana do Castelo substation. The other two units will be connected until they reach 25 MW of the WFA project.

The project took another step forward with the arrival of the second of the three platforms that make up the WindFloat Atlantic Project arrived at their destination on 1 January 2020. The third is ready to set sail to the site where it will also be connected to the grid.

Once fully operational, the three floating wind turbine generators making up the 25MW wind farm will generate enough power to supply the equivalent of 60,000 users each year.

This technology also has significant advantages that make it more accessible and affordable, including the fact that it can be assembled on land using standard equipment and its use of conventional maritime transportation methods, such as tugboats, instead of expensive offshore installation vessels.