Portugal: Investors Inaugurate First Floating Wind Turbine

Principle Power, Energias de Portugal, Repsol, A. Silva Matos (ASM), Vestas Wind Systems A/S and InovCapital announced the inauguration of Portugal’s first offshore wind turbine on June 16th, 2012. The turbine is installed on an innovative floating foundation called the WindFloat.

In addition to being the first offshore wind turbine in Portugal, this is the first offshore wind turbine to be installed without the use of any heavy lift vessels or piling equipment at sea. All final assembly, installation and pre-commissioning of the turbine and substructure took place on land in a controlled environment. The complete system was then wet-towed offshore using simple tug vessels.

The WindFloat is equipped with a Vestas v80 2.0MW turbine capable of producing enough electricity for 1,300 households. The system is located 5km off the coast of Agucadoura, Portugal, and has already produced in excess of 1.7 GWh. The WindFloat ushers in a new era in the offshore wind industry permitting utilities to target the highest quality wind resources, independent of water depth. In addition, projects can realise significant cost and risk reductions as a result of the onshore fabrication and commissioning scheme.

The successful installation and ongoing operations of the WindFloat in Portugal is the result of hard work and foresight on part of the WindPlus joint venture, comprised of EDP, Repsol, Principle Power, ASM, Vestas Wind Systems A/S and InovCapital including a subsidy from the Innovation Support Fund (Fundo de Apoio a Inovacao – FAI). Additionally, over 60 other European suppliers, 40 of them Portuguese, supplied key components to the project. Repsol has recently joined the Windplus JV as a significant shareholder bringing additional offshore experience and operational capabilities to the project team.

The WindFloat has already endured a harsh winter environment in the open Atlantic, having withstood waves of up to 15 metres at the close of 2011. The system performed remarkably and within predictions anticipated using sophisticated design tools. Further, power production figures support the joint-venture’s vision of the WindFloat’s significant and game-changing role in the global offshore wind market.

The WindFloat and subsequent Portuguese offshore projects represent a great industrial opportunity for Portugal. The country’s existing infrastructure, such as shipyards, could be adapted to support an offshore industry with tremendous domestic and global growth potential.

Statement by Alla Weinstein, President & CEO of Principle Power:

“Through this first project we have demonstrated and proven the WindFloat technology. The entire system was fabricated using domestic resources, suppliers and infrastructure. Since its connection to the grid, the WindFloat has delivered an energy profile far better than that of local onshore wind installations.With Repsol entering the joint venture, Windplus is now in a position to advance the next phase of the project calling for a 25+ MW pre-commercial array of turbines. With possible support from the EC NER300 funding scheme this second phase of the project would prove the scalability of the WindFloat design and the intrinsic opportunities to reduce the cost of offshore wind deployments while creating an entirely new industrial base in Portugal.”

Statement by Antonio Mexia, CEO of EDP:

“Through WindFloat, EDP has once again demonstrated its clear capacity for foresight and its excellence in execution. Not only does this technology make EDP a focus of attention in the international offshore market, it also represents a milestone in the exploitation of endogenous resources, reduction of dependence on foreign imports and potential utilisation of the Portuguese maritime cluster, with positive impacts on employment and exports.”

Statement by Jose Luis Bernal Catalan, Repsol New Energy Director:

“Repsol’s involvement as a new shareholder in Windplus is part of our offshore wind energy business development strategy, a sector in which Repsol has a significant presence in the United Kingdom, with a pipeline of over 1,000 MW which Repsol Nuevas Energias UK, Repsol’s British subsidiary, is developing in the sea off the coast of Scotland. We see the WindFloat technology as unique and pioneering. Its most outstanding characteristic is the fact that the whole structure, including the turbine, can be built and/or assembled on land and then transported to the operation site by a simple tug. This means major savings in costs and risks compared to other technologies. We are convinced that by joining Windplus at the start of the critical phase of demonstrating and validating the technology, we will be giving the project a substantial boost by contributing all of Repsol’s technological potential. We are confident that in the near future this technology will enable us to develop offshore wind generation projects in areas with high wind resources without the present restriction of the depth of the seabed, to which the platforms on which the turbines are currently installed have to be anchored. We are convinced that Windplus is a winning technology and we are actively working together to prove this.”

Statement by Ditlev Engel, CEO of Vestas:

“Vestas has pioneered the wind industry and is continuously striving to find new ways of lowering the cost of energy in relation to offshore wind and to increase the business case certainty for our customers. Therefore, joining forces with EDP on the WindFloat project was an obvious opportunity for us and one which was even more interesting given the fact that it involved working with one of the leading energy companies in the world and further developing the strong partnership we have with EDP.In relation to offshore wind, floating foundations are one of the solutions with the highest potential for harvesting wind in deeper waters and the WindFloat project was a highly interesting possibility for us to help explore this area within offshore wind. We have been working in close collaboration with EDP and Principle Power on the project and we are very pleased with the successful integration of the turbine and the WindFloat platform. It has been an interesting and valuable experience and we are proud of the satisfactory results achieved so far.”

Statement by Adelino Costa Matos, CEO of A. Silva Matos:

“The WindFloat Project is seen by the ASM Group as a unique opportunity for the Portuguese industry and economy to show all its tradition of competitiveness and competence in the development of suitable solutions for the exploration of renewable energy sources. The innovative aspect of the solution for deep waters, together with the maturity of wind energy, makes this project a real catalysis for the development of the Economy of the Sea, in Portugal.The ASM Group is proud to be the manufacture of the first platform, positioning itself as one of the first players worldwide supplying this kind of offshore structures, reinforcing the Group long term strategy having the Offshore Wind Power as one of the main vectors of its sustainable growth.”

With an application for the European Commission funding scheme, which is provided through the monetisation of carbon credits, a bigger wind farm park now is pending EU funding.


Offshore WIND staff, June 17, 2012; Image: principlepowerinc