World’s largest floating turbine starts generating power

Source: By Carlos Anchondo, E&E News reporter • Posted: Monday, January 6, 2020

The world’s largest floating wind turbine has started delivering power to the grid from one of three platforms off the Portuguese coast.

On Tuesday, a 20-kilometer cable successfully connected the WindFloat Atlantic wind farm — a project of energy consortium Windplus — and a substation in northern Portugal, according to a press release from renewable energy company EDP Renewables.

“The commissioning of this floating wind farm contributes toward the diversification of energy supply, provides access to untapped offshore wind resource and represents a significant technological leap towards a carbon-free economy,” EDP Renewables said yesterday.

The group, which includes French utility Engie, oil and gas firm Repsol SA and the California offshore wind company Principle Power Inc., said it was the first of three 8.4-megawatt MHI Vestas turbines planned for installation, with a second platform recently on site for connection.

Once fully operational, the three generators will have an installed capacity of 25 MW, or enough power to serve an average of 60,000 energy users, the group said (Greenwire, Oct. 21, 2019).

Erik Milito, president of the National Ocean Industries Association, said the WindFloat Atlantic project is “great news” for the future of the U.S. offshore wind industry. He said multiple states — particularly California and Maine — stand to benefit from commercialization of floating offshore wind farms.

Approximately 80% of the world’s wind resources, Milito said, are in waters that are too deep for traditional anchored wind turbines.

“The speed at which new offshore wind technologies are being developed underscores the need for a predictable schedule of U.S. offshore wind lease auctions,” Milito said. “The technology and investment appetite is here, and regular wind lease auctions will provide developers with a clear road map of when and how to invest.”

Still, offshore wind has faced multiple obstacles in the United States. In California — which is pushing to decarbonize its power supply — the development of offshore wind farms has been impeded somewhat by U.S. military operations and competition from the fishing and merchant shipping industries (Energywire, Feb. 27, 2019).

Windplus said its WindFloat Atlantic project is possible because of a 2-MW prototype the consortium operated between 2011 and 2016. That prototype generated energy uninterrupted over the five-year span, surviving weather conditions such as 60-knot winds and waves more than 50 feet tall.

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.”