WindFloat Atlantic: France’s First Commercial Scale Floating Offshore Wind Tender

Ocean Winds (OW) and Principle Power have entered into a collaboration agreement to cooperate on the design of the floating platforms for France’s first commercial scale floating wind tender. In September this year, the French Government selected Ocean Winds to participate in the tender process.

The companies have successfully delivered the 25 MW WindFloat Atlantic project currently operating in Portugal and are working together on the 30 MW Éoliennes Flottantes du Golfe du Lion (EFGL) project in the French Mediterranean Sea planned for commissioning in 2023.

With a capacity of up to 270 MW, the South Brittany floating offshore wind project will be located off the coast of southern Brittany. The French government has already pre-selected Ocean Winds to take part in a competitive dialogue over the next months and expects to announce a winner next year.

“Our aim is to deploy the full know-how of Ocean Winds to ensure that the South Brittany floating offshore wind project is a success for France. Our 10+ years of experience developing and operating floating wind projects, including WindFloat 1, which started production in 2011, and WindFloat Atlantic, the world’s first semi-submersible floating wind farm, makes us uniquely qualified to deliver this project and generate a positive impact for the French industry, local communities, and other stakeholders,” Grzegorz Gorski, Chief Operating Officer of Ocean Winds, said.

“Principle Power is the leading supplier of floating wind technology in the world, with turbines totalling 75 MW operating on our WindFloat® platforms. Our early involvement in this project ensures that we can bring our cumulative experience to design WindFloat® units that address the unique conditions of the South Brittany site in a way that is robust, competitive, and in harmony with the local environment,” Aaron Smith, Chief Commercial Officer of Principle Power, added.

WindFloat Atlantic is an offshore floating wind farm located 20km off the coast of Viana do Castelo, Portugal. Commissioned in January 2020, the project is considered to be the world’s first semi-submersible floating wind farm and the first floating wind farm in continental Europe.


Floating offshore wind-power generating platform

The WindFloat Project has developed an innovative technology to allow the exploration of wind potential at sea, at depths of over 40m. The project’s innovation focus was the development of a floating platform, based on the experiences of the oil and gas industries, to support multi-MW wind turbines in marine applications.

The floating platform is semi-submersible and is anchored to the seabed. Stability is due to the use of “water trap plates” at 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 on land, including the installation of the turbine, thus preventing the work from having to be carried out offshore, which would have an impact on the marine environment.


WindFloat Atlantic supplying clean energy

The first of the three platforms of the WindFloat Atlantic project was successfully connected in December 2019, after the installation of the cable that runs the 20 kilometers of distance that separate the wind farm and the station installed in Viana do Castelo. This was an important step for the national and European energy sector, since, by connecting the first wind tower to land, the first floating wind farm in Continental Europe started to supply clean energy to the electricity system.


Departure of the third and last platform of the Windfloat

In May of 2020, the project took another decisive step with the departure of the third, and last, of the three platforms off the coast of Viana de Castelo. Since it became 100% operational, the wind farm, with 25 MW of installed capacity, will be able to generate enough energy to supply the equivalent of 60 thousand inhabitants per year. The structure of the floating platform – with a height of 30 meters and a distance of 50 meters between each column – allows the use of the largest installed wind turbines on a floating surface in the world, of 8.4 MW each.

With this technology, the park contributes to increasing the generation of renewable energy and promotes a considerable reduction in costs associated with its life cycle.


Precommercial phase: Windfloat Atlantic

After successfully testing the technology for five years, the next step in the development of WindFloat technology was the pre-commercial phase, called WindFloat Atlantic (WFA), the first floating wind power plant in continental Europe.

To support the development of this pioneering technology, the European Investment Bank (EIB) granted, in October of 2018, a loan of 60 million euros. In addition, the project was also supported with 29.9 million euros from the EU program, NER300, and up to 6 million euros from the Government of Portugal, through the Portuguese Carbon Fund.

The installation of the first WindFloat Atlantic turbine on the floating platform was carried out in July 2019, in the port of Ferrol, in Spain, constituting an important milestone for the WindFloat Atlantic project and for the offshore wind energy sector worldwide, given that it was the largest turbine ever installed on a floating platform.

The three turbines that make up the wind farm are mounted on floating platforms moored to the seabed, for a total installed capacity of 25 MW, equivalent to the energy consumed by 60 thousand families over a year. What’s more, this technology has enormous advantages that make it more accessible and cost-effective, including mounting it using conventional land cranes on dry land (in port), and using common shipping methods such as tugs instead of more expensive offshore installation vessels.

WindFloat Atlantic uses advanced technology from Principle Power, which makes it possible to install floating platforms in deep waters, previously inaccessible, and where the abundant wind resources can be harnessed.

This project demonstrated the low risk profile and economic competitiveness of the technology, paving the way for future commercial offshore floating wind farm structures.


Installation of the Windfloat 1

The WindFloat 1 Project involved the development and construction of a demonstration unit, using a 2 MW commercial turbine. The unit was installed on the Portuguese coast, near Aguçadoura, and it was connected to the grid at the end of December 2011. The project is the first offshore wind deployment in the world, without using the traditional piles that are used in this type of infrastructure.

This was the first floating offshore wind turbine in the open waters of the Atlantic, and the first implementation of a semi-submersible structure to support a multi-megawatt wind turbine.

Windfloat 1 operated for five years with high availability, producing more than 17GWh, in a sea with waves of more than 7 meters and remaining operational even with waves of 17m.


About OW and Principle Power

Ocean Winds is a 50-50 offshore wind joint venture, owned and created by EDP Renewables and ENGIE. Both companies believe that offshore wind energy has become an essential part of the global energy transition, leading to rapid growth in the sector and increased competitiveness. That is why they have included all their existing and pipeline offshore portfolio in the new company.

Ocean Winds has a strategic advantage and is well-positioned to play a leading role in the offshore market. EDPR and ENGIE are combining their offshore wind assets and project pipeline in OW, starting with a total of 1.5 GW under construction and 4 GW under development, with the target of reaching 5 to 7 GW of projects in operation or under construction and 5 to 10 GW in the advanced development stages by 2025. OW primarily targets markets in Europe, the United States, and selected geographies in Asia, from where most of the growth is expected to come.

Principle Power is a global energy technology and services company. The Company’s proven and in-demand WindFloat® floating technology is unlocking offshore wind potential worldwide by enabling projects to harvest the best wind resource, irrespective of water depth or seabed condition. Principle Power acts as a trusted partner to developers, independent power producers, utilities and EPCs, supporting its customers throughout the entire lifecycle of their projects. With 75 MW of cumulative capacity in operation, Principle Power is the clear market leader in floating wind technology. The company has secured exclusivity to supply the WindFloat® to commercial scale projects totalling 4 GW and is supporting customers to deliver their portfolios of cost-competitive floating wind projects worldwide.

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