Vestas to deploy its first floating wind turbine

The Danish manufacturer has signed an agreement with the Portuguese utility EDP (and other partners) for an R&D project focusing on the deployment of a full-scale semi-submersible floating wind turbine. In doing so, (after a stuttering start) Vestas is finally following the trend set by its competitors such as Siemens, Gamesa, GE, Acciona and Alstom, which have all launched similar projects.
Vestas to deploy its first floating wind turbine

The EDP Group has entered into a joint venture called WindPlus with partners including Principle Power Inc. and several other entities. Its pioneer project, called the WindFloat Project, in which Vestas is to play a significant role has, the company says, “the potential to lay the foundations for further development of the offshore business while helping to exploit the enormous offshore potential worldwide”.

Vestas’ contribution to WindPlus is the delivery, installation and commissioning of a Vestas V80-2.0MW wind turbine for the project, which will be located off the Portuguese coast on a purpose-built floating platform built by Principle Power.

Principle Power’s WindFloat is a patented semi-submersible floating structure for offshore wind turbines with a simple and economic design. Innovative features of the WindFloat dampen wave and turbine induced motion, enabling offshore wind turbines to be sited in previously inaccessible locations where water depth exceeds 50 meters and wind resources are superior.

Vesta’s turbine will be delivered during 2011 and the system integrating the turbine and the floating structure will be tested for no less than 12 months with a focus on performance, validation of the WindFloat and turbine control optimization, announces Vestas. In addition, commissioning/decommissioning and operation and maintenance studies will be conducted.

Pending results of this project, Vestas explains that the successful deployment of the first 2 MW semi-submersible floating platform “carries the potential to become the first commercial semi-submersible floating platform for wind offshore electricity generation” and represents a “great opportunity” for the implementation of future offshore projects worldwide, especially in regions with large and deep coast lines.

“Provided that the project outcome is successful, we believe that it can reinforce the already existing offshore wind industry and thereby help countries around the world increase their wind energy penetration levels and raise their energy independence. We are committed to offshore wind and helping drive new innovative solutions, such as this one cements our leading position in the offshore wind industry,” says Anders Søe-Jensen, President Vestas Offshore.

“EDP has selected offshore wind energy as one of its five innovation priorities and the WindFloat is one of the most promising technologies in this area. Pending results of this key demonstration stage, EDP will be better positioned to tackle offshore wind challenges worldwide,” asserted António Mexia, CEO of EDP.

The latest of many

Currently, several projects are underway involving floating wind turbines around the world. One of the most advanced is Emerge, a project led by Spanish company, Iberdrola, and involving Alstom Wind, the wind division of the French company, Alstom. Iberdrola says it also intends to launch its first prototype in 2011.

Moreover, Alstom and its main Spanish competitors, Gamesa and Acciona Wind Power, recently signed an agreement to reserve space at the Zèfir offshore testing site, a facility designed by the Catalan Institute of Energy Research (IREC) . This is the first centre for offshore wind research in Spain and will be located off the Mediterranean coast of Tarragona and include positions for floating wind turbines, as well as positions with foundations anchored to the seabed.

Another flagship project, Hywind, involved the installation at the end of 2009 of a floating wind turbine ten kilometres off the south-west coast of Norway. Hywind is owned by the Norwegian oil company, Statoil, and has been generating electricity since then.

The turbine itself was manufactured by Siemens, while the Technip-built floating structure consists of a steel cylinder filled with a ballast of water and rocks. It extends 100 metres beneath the sea’s surface and is attached to the seabed by a three-point mooring spread.

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