Under an EU-backed scheme, Bulgaria will see a 5 MW floating wind turbine demonstrator installed off its coast in the Black Sea within the next two years, as part of the Black Sea Floating Offshore Wind (BLOW) project.
The project, which will see the turbine connected to an offshore gas platform, is one of three to be awarded by the European Commission’s Horizon Europe research and innovation program last year, all aimed at sustainable energy solutions, with a grant agreement signed at the end of 2022.
BLOW will use Eolink’s floating offshore wind turbine design, and aims to engineer, manufacture, and commission the 5 MW unit by 2025 before rolling out large-scale deployment as part of a wider industrialization process.
The turbine will be optimized for low- and medium-wind speed areas, and it is hoped that the project will pave the way for industrial mass production and the deployment of floating offshore wind farms in the region.
Eolink said its patented concept addressed ongoing industry issues by spreading the turbine’s stresses using four steel masts instead of one.
According to the company, this setup offers a competitive weight-to-energy ratio that makes the overall structure more than 30% lighter.
Eolink’s CEO and Founder, former Renault engineer Marc Guyot, said: “The objective of this specific project is to demonstrate the competitiveness of floating offshore wind in lower-wind areas with the deployment of a large rotor diameter. Winning this award has allowed us to take one step further towards our ultimate goal: offering a viable energy source that is as low-carbon as possible.”
Sixteen European partners are involved in the project, including the Spanish-based IREC and Acciona, the Turkish Offshore Wind Energy Association, Germany's Fraunhofer Institute, and the European Marine Energy Centre in Scotland.
The floating wind unit will be connected to an existing gas platform operated by Petroceltic, a Bulgarian oil and gas company.
GSP Offshore, a Romanian offshore services company, will manufacture the unit in their shipyard in Constanta (Romania).
“The World Bank 2021 report indicates there is vast technical potential in Southeast Europe, with a staggering 166 GW of floating offshore energy in the Black Sea alone, which is the equivalent of five times the electricity consumption of Bulgaria and Romania.
"Through this project we hope to catalyse offshore development across the region, which already has ongoing fixed-bottom offshore wind projects in Romania,” added Eolink's Chief Commercial Officer, Alain Morry.
The unit will be designed to operate with maximum efficiency in the Black Sea, including adapting it with a larger rotor so it can generate more energy in low-wind areas.
The project marks Eolink’s second deployment of its patented concept in Europe after the France Atlantic Project, which aims to be connected to France's grid by 2024.
According to the European Commission's CORDIS website, BLOW targets an expected LCOE of 87€/MWh by 2028 (and 50€/MWh beyond 2030) and an environmental impact reduced by 40%.