Windfloat prototype anchored off the coast of Agucadoura, Portugal
Floating wind farms could soon be powering thousands of European homes after a prototype seaborne turbine sailed through technological trials off the coast of Agucadoura, Portugal.
The 54-meter tall renewable structure sits atop a semi-submersible platform known as a WindFloat situated five kilometers from shore…It has been manufactured by WindPlus, a consortium of energy and clean-tech companies including Principle Power, Energias de Portugal and Vestas.
The group hopes their primary success will help secure European Union funding to add another five turbines alongside the existing model, engendering greater electrical production…
Unlike existing offshore wind farms and underwater tidal turbines, floating structures do not have to be permanently fixed to the ocean floor…Instead they are kept in place by a drag embedment anchor, much like the devices used to moor oil rigs in deep ocean environments.
This means WindFloat structures could theoretically be transported to any ocean location where there is a strong wind resource, says Alla Weinstein…
Weinstein highlights lower construction costs — the WindPlus turbine cost €20 million to build and install — as a major advantage the technology has over existing offshore wind farms.
The fact that turbines and their platforms can be assembled on land…means “the cost and risk profile … is significantly reduced,” she says.
But while bullish about the technology’s potential, Weinstein admits there remains a way to go before floating turbines become profitable enterprises.
The initial structure off the coast of Portugal is merely a pilot installation to prove the device works and is viable…
One of my favorite future means of producing electricity. Offshore is a great location – especially utilizing equipment like this which merely needs to be towed into position 12-18 miles at sea. Far enough to counter that whining sound that accompanies resistance from NIMBYs worldwide.
There ain’t about to be any shortage of offshore wind. Maintenance and durability are the only significant design questions. Given appropriate materials and corrosion-resistant coatings, production should extend well beyond payback time.