WindFloat Atlantic is a 25MW floating offshore wind farm located 20km off the coast of Viana do Castelo, Portugal. To be developed in 100m-deep waters, WindFloat Atlantic will be the first floating wind farm in mainland Europe.

The project is being developed by Windplus, a consortium of EDP Renewables (54.4%), Engie (25%), Repsol (19.4%), and Principle Power (1.2%).

The wind farm will feature the world’s biggest and most powerful commercially available offshore wind turbine on a floating platform.

The first turbine installation atop the WindFloat triangular platform was started in Spain in July 2019, while the floating platform structure fitted with turbine was sailed off from the Spanish Port of Ferrol towards the site in Portugal in October 2019.

Planned to be developed with three such floating structures, the WindFloat Atlantic wind farm is expected to generate enough electricity for approximately 60,000 households.

WindFloat Atlantic project background

WindFloat Atlantic is a pre-commercial project based on the 2MW WindFloat1 pilot project, which was successfully operated for roughly five years between 2011 and 2016.

Installed off the Portuguese coast near Aguçadoura, the 2MW prototype represented the first deployment of a semi-submersible structure for wind power generation in open Atlantic waters.

The 2MW demonstration unit comprising a Vestas V-80 2MW wind turbine was assembled and commissioned ashore before being towed to the project site. It is also the world’s first offshore wind deployment without using any heavy lift equipment offshore.

The WindFloat1 pilot project was connected to the grid in December 2011 and delivered more than 17GWh of electricity withstanding up to 17m-tall waves and more than 60kts of wind speeds, before its decommissioning in September 2016.

WindFloat Atlantic wind farm make-up

The 25MW WindFloat Atlantic floating wind farm will consist of three Vestas V164-8.4 MW offshore wind turbines mounted on top of Principle Power’s semi-submersible WindFloat foundations.

To be anchored with chains to the seabed at a water depth of 100m, each triangular floating platform will be 30m-tall and columns 50m apart.

Each turbine will have a rotor diameter of 164m and a swept area of 21,124m². The tip height of each turbine will be 190m.

WindFloat technology details

The WindFloat Atlantic project utilises the WindFloat® technology developed by Principle Power, a US-based technology developer that focuses on the deep-water offshore wind energy market.

Involving dry-dock turbine and foundation assembly as well as towing of these floating units to the project site without the need for any specialised towing craft, the innovative technology helps reduce the cost as well as environmental impact compared to the complex offshore activities associated with the installation of conventional bottom-fixed structures.

The WindFloat® technology also enables access to the vast untapped wind power resources near deep waters.

Out of the total three WindFloat platforms for the WindFloat Atlantic project, two platforms were manufactured at the Setúbal shipyards in Portugal, while one platform was built at Avilés and Ferrol shipyards in Spain.

Financing

In October 2018, the European Investment Bank (EIB) granted a £52m (€60m) loan to the Windplus consortium for the WindFloat Atlantic project, through the InnovFin Energy Demonstration Projects (EDP) facility under the European Union’s (EU) Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

The project is also expected to receive £26m (€29.9m) from the EU’s New Entrants' Reserve 300 (NER300) programme, and up to £5m (€6m) from the Government of Portugal’s carbon fund.

Contractors involved

MHI Vestas is the turbine supplier, while Principle Power is the designer of WindFloat turbine foundations.

A joint venture of Navantia and Windar was contracted for the construction of a semi-submersible platform in Spain in August 2018, while A. Silva Matos Group (ASM Industries) was contracted to construct other two similar platforms in Portugal in the same month.

Bourbon Subsea Services was contracted for the offshore installation of the floating wind turbines for the WindFloat Atlantic project in October 2018, while Vryhof Anchors was contracted to provide the mooring systems for the project in January 2019.

JDR Cable Systems (JDR) was selected as the preferred cable supplier for the project in June 2017, while Trelleborg was subcontracted by JDR for the design and delivery of dynamic cable protection products for the project in April 2019.