The first of the three floating platforms for the 25-MW WindFloat Atlantic project has sailed from Spain carrying a fully installed turbine to a location 20 kilometers (12.43 miles) off the coast of Viana do Castelo, Portugal.
Once at the final location, the three floating structures – stretching 30 meters in height and with a distance between each one of their columns of 50 meters – will be installed to form the first floating wind farm in continental Europe.
The structure that has set off from the outer harbour of Ferrol comprises a floating platform and a wind turbine, the largest installed on a surface of these characteristics to date. In the coming months, two other platforms will be added to complete the windfarm which, with its 25MW installed capacity, will be able to generate enough energy to supply the equivalent of 60,000 users each year.
The project is led by the Windplus consortium, comprising EDP Renewables (54.4%), Engie (25%), Repsol (19.4%), and Principle Power Inc. (1.2%). The facility has three wind turbines mounted on floating platforms which are anchored only with chains to the seabed at a depth of 100 m.
It includes new technology that minimizes the environmental impact and facilitates access to untapped wind resources in deep waters. This technology has wide-reaching benefits that enhance its accessibility and cost-effectiveness, including its aptness for dry-dock assembly and towing without the need for specialized towing craft, or the advantages of not having to rely on complex offshore operations associated with the installation of traditional bottom-fixed structures.
WindFloat Atlantic project builds on the success of the WindFloat1 prototype, which was in operations between 2011 and 2016. The 2MW prototype successfully generated energy uninterruptedly over five years, surviving extreme weather conditions, including waves up to 17 meters tall and 60-knot winds, completely unscathed.
The transport alone of the first of the three floating structures making up the floating wind farm at Viana do Castelo marks a milestone in itself, as it sidesteps the need for towing craft designed specifically for this process. This benefit, alongside the simple mooring process, make it possible to replicate this initiative in other geographical areas and facilitates the commissioning phase regardless of geographical boundaries.
The WindFloat can also support the world’s largest commercially available wind turbines on a floating structure of almost 9 MW each, helping to increase power generation and drive significant reductions in life-cycle costs.
The platforms have been built in cooperation between the two countries on the Iberian peninsula: two of the platforms were manufactured at the Setúbal shipyards (Portugal), and the third at Avilés and Ferrol shipyards (Spain). The project uses WindFloat disruptive technology, which enables wind platforms to be installed in deep waters, inaccessible to date, where abundant wind resources can be harnessed.
This initiative has had the support of public and private institutions, encouraging companies that are leaders in their respective markets to take part in the project; while the Government of Portugal, the European Commission and the European Investment Bank have provided financial support.
The partners that have made this project possible include Principle Power, the joint venture between Navantia/Windar, the A-Silva Matos Group, Bourbon, the wind turbine supplier MHI Vestas, and dynamic cable supplier JDR Cables.