Windfloat Atlantic: Wind energy for the Iberian Peninsula

Windfloat Atlantic

2019 has arrived. This year will see the beginning of operations at the Windfloat Atlantic, located off the north coast of Portugal some 20 km from Viana do Castelo. This project consists in the construction of the region’s first offshore windfarm with three cutting-edge wind turbines. MHI Vestas will supply the V-164 8.4MW wind turbines, for a total installed capacity of 25 MW.

Portuguese company EDP Renovables is the main shareholder in this project (79.4 percent). For its part, Repsol owns a 19.4 percent share, while Principle Power owns a 1.2 percent share.

Repsol has been working on this project for about seven years. The pilot, which began in 2011, has been a success, generating 17GWh for five years. Each turbine will be supported on a floating structure based on Windfloat technology (owned by Principle Power, Inc.)

One of a kind

The Windfloat Atlantic boasts two essential characteristics that set it apart from traditional offshore wind farms:

1.-Each turbine will operate on a Windfloat floating platform, which ensures its stability and is only connected to the seabed by chains. This system avoids the complex offshore operations associated with installing traditional fixed structures, so it reduces the potential impact on the environment.

2.-The platform and wind turbine will be entirely built and assembled on land and later towed out to their final location.

These two features remove the need for large transport and installation ships, avoiding complex and costly operations at sea. They also allow for the installation of wind turbines in locations farther from the coast at greater depths where there are stronger and steadier winds.

Taking confident steps

In September, Principle Power began the construction of three bases for floating wind turbines. These labors were carried out at the company’s facilities in Spain and Portugal.

Windplus, the company behind the Windfloat Atlantic project, received a production permit from the Government of Portugal’s Directorate-General for Energy and Geology.

This groundbreaking project will have the most powerful turbines installed in an offshore floating wind farm thus far.

From the depths

The WindFloat project has developed an innovative technology that will enable to exploit offshore wind potential at depths of more than 40 meters.

In detail, the project’s innovation focuses on the development of a floating base, based on the experiences in the oil and gas industry, which will support several MW wind turbines in marine structures.

The floating base is semi-submersible and is anchored to the seabed. Its stability comes from the use of "water retention plates" in the lower part of the three pillars, linked to a static and dynamic ballast system.

WindFloat adapts to any type of offshore wind turbine. It is built entirely on the mainland, including the installation of the turbine, thus avoiding the use of scarce marine resources.

The WindFloat 1 project covered the design and construction of a demonstration unit with a commercial 2 MW turbine. The unit was installed off the Portuguese coast, near Aguçadoura. It was connected to the grid at the end of December 2011.

Passed test

The Windfloat 1 operated with a high availability for about five years. It produced more than 17 GWh with significant waves of up to seven meters, while surviving 17-meter waves. After successfully reaching the end of the project’s service life, the Windfloat 1 was dismantled in a safe manner with minor environmental impact.

This project is the world’s first offshore wind project that did not require the use of heavy equipment at sea. This is the first wind turbine installed in the open waters of the Atlantic. It is also the first project with a semi submergible structure that supports a multi-megawatt turbine.

Financing

The bulk of the investment, €60 million, will come from a loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB) signed in October 2018.

The €60 million loan will finance the floating wind farm with the support of the InnovFin initiative for energy demonstration projects; which is funded under the EU's research and development program, Horizon 2020.

Windfloat Atlantic will also receive €29.9 million from the EU’s NER300 program. Likewise, the Government of Portugal will contribute €6 million, through the Portuguese Carbon Fund. The rest of the investment will be borne by the shareholders.

Capacity of the Windfloat Atlantic

The Windfloat Atlantic has an overall capacity of 25 MW in a 100 meters depth area. Each of the platforms is equipped with a 8 MW commercial turbine.

The energy generated at this site will enable to supply electricity to over 18.000 Portuguese households.

With a hub height of 190 meters, it will be placed on the Windfloat’s triangular semi-submergible structure at a depth of 100 meters.

For more information, visit Energía16

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