Towering achievement: Ribbon cut on 25MW floating wind farm in Atlantic

WindFloat Atlantic project off the coast of Portugal is the world’s first semi-submersible floating wind farm, according to its developers

Continental Europe’s first floating wind farm is now fully operational, capable of generating enough electricity to supply the equivalent of 60,000 users per year, its developers announced today.

Following a decade in development, the last of three floating wind platforms which comprise the WindFloat Atlantic project off the coast of Portugal was connected to the 20km export cable running to the substation at Viana do Castelo today, marking the completion of the wind farm.

The Windplus consortium behind the project – which is led by EDP Renewables alongside ENGIE, Repsol and Principal Power – claims the floating wind farm has the potential to save almost 1.1m tons of CO2 each year.

With a total installed capacity of 25MW, WindFloat Atlantic is the world’s first semi-submersible floating wind farm, while the three 8.4MW wind turbines are also the largest ever installed on a floating platform, the developers claim. Each of the three turbines measure 30 metres in height, while the project’s mooring technology enables installation in waters over 100 metres deep. The turbines were assembled on land and pulled onto the platforms using and standard tug boats, they explained.

Unlike traditional offshore wind turbines, floating wind farms are not built upon the seabed, enabling them to be situated further out at sea in deeper waters where winds are often stronger, allowing higher levels of electricity generation.

A report published last year by RenewableUK and Scottish Renewables predicted floating wind projects such as Scotwind could support 17,000 UK jobs by 2050, particularly in coastal communities in England, Scotland and Wales, delivering up to £33.6bn of economic activity. 

In related wind energy news, meanwhile, global renewable energy firm BayWa r.e. today announced it has signed an exclusive agreement to join the existing consortium of Ideol and Elicio to prepare a joint bid for the ScotWind tender recently launched by Crown Estate Scotland. 

“We are delighted to join forces with Elicio and Ideol, and to jointly drive forward innovation in the Scottish offshore wind sector,” said the firm’s CEO Matthias Taft. “Our commitment to growing in the Scottish onshore wind market is clear after our first decade of project realisation. We now look forward to moving into Scottish offshore waters in the next decade and creating further jobs and value for the local supply chain.” 

There was also positive news in the marine energy sector today, moreover, as developer CorPower announced it has secured €9m in equity funding for its wave energy technology.

The investment will help support the development of CorPower’s first commercial scale array of Wave Energy Converters (WECs) in northern Portugal, named the HiWave-5 project, the firm said.

CorPower claims its WECs produce five times more electricity per ton than alternative wave technologies, by combining storm resilience and amplified power capture in regular sea conditions.

The bulk of the investment was provided by clean tech multinational Midroc New Technology, with additional investment from ALMI Invest Greentech, EIT InnoEnergy, and a group of private investors. Their funding adds to public sector support for the firm from the European Commission and the Swedish and Scottish governments.

CorPower’s HiWave-5 project aims to convert the firm’s wave energy technology into a commercial product by 2024, by proving the resilience, performance and economic viability of a grid-connected array of WECs in northern Portugal, the firm said. It hopes that this will unlock mainstream renewable project financing for commercial array projects developed by its customers.

“This funding package marks another significant milestone in the firm’s mission to introduce a new class of certified and warrantied WEC products,” said CorpOwer Ocean CEO Patrik Möller.  

The investment follows the results of an EU-funded trialindicating the potential for CorPower’s technology to boost cost, efficiency and carbon savings, published earlier this year.

Supporters of marine energy back its potential to deliver cost-effective and reliable clean power at scale and over a long period. However, critics argue the sector faces major engineering challenges in hostile marine environments, creating significant barriers to the technology matching the cost reductions experienced by wind and solar, which it continues to lag far behind.

Despite these doubts, the sector has experienced significant growth over the past decade, with its cumulative energy generation growing ten-fold from under 5GW to 45GW, according to research released earlier this year.

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