The WindFloat Project developed an innovative technology that will allow the exploitation of wind potential at sea, at depths of more than 40m.
The innovation focus of the project is the conception of a floating foundation, based on the experiences from the oil and gas industry, which will support multi-MW wind turbines in offshore applications. The floating foundation is semi-submersible, anchored to the seabed. Its stability is due to the use of "water entrapment plates" on the bottom of the three pillars, associated with a static and dynamic ballast system. WindFloat adapts to any type of offshore wind turbine. It is built entirely onshore - including the installation of the turbine - thus avoiding the use of scarce marine resources.
The WindFloat 1 Project encompassed the design and construction of a demonstration unit, using a commercial 2MW turbine. The unit has been installed off the Portuguese coast, close to Aguçadoura, and was connected to the grid by the end of December2011. The project constitutes the first offshore wind deployment worldwide, which did not require the use of heavy lift equipment offshore. This is the first offshore wind turbine in open Atlantic waters and the first deployment of a semi-submersible structure supporting a multi-megawatt wind turbine.
The WindFloat 1 operated for 5 years with high availability, producing more than 17GWh at sea states up to 7m of significant wave weight and surviving waves of 17m. After successfully reaching the end of the first phase of the project, the WindFloat 1 was decommissioned safely with negligible impact to the environment.
The next step in the development of WindFloat technology will be the precommercial phase, with two projects already under development.
The 'WindFloat Atlantic' (WFA) has a total capacity of 25MW in a 100 meters depth area in the Portuguese coast of Viana do Castelo. Each of the 3 platforms will be equipped with an 8MW commercial turbine. The European Investment Bank (EIB) has granted in October 2018 a EUR 60 million loan to Windplus S.A., a subsidiary of EDP Renováveis (79.4%), Repsol S.A. (19.4%) and Principle Power Inc. (1.2%). The EUR 60 million loan will finance the floating wind farm with the support of the InnovFin Energy Demonstration Project facility, which is funded under the EU’s current research and innovation programme Horizon 2020. In addition, the project will receive EUR 29.9 million from the EU’s NER300 programme, and up to EUR 6 million from the Government of Portugal, through the Portuguese Carbon Fund.
In 2016, another project was approved in France, with 4 platforms using 6MW wind turbines, mounted on the WindFloat platform. The "Les éoliennes flottantes du golfe du lion" (EFGL) project is being conceived by Engie, EDP Renewables and Caisse des Dépôts and should reach COD by 2020.
These two projects will demonstrate the low risk profile and economic competitiveness of the technology, preparing the way for future commercial size floating offshore wind farms.