he FLOATGEN project will demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of two multi-megawatt (MW) integrated floating wind turbine systems in southern European deep waters. FLOATGEN will assess and compare the two different systems to improve performance and allow future replication of the project results.The project launched in January 2013, with a budget of over €36 million. FLOATGEN is co-financed by the European Commission under the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Innovation. With a contribution of €19 million, it is the largest wind demonstration project ever financed by the European Commission.
Europe’s first mover advantage
In 1991, the world’s first offshore wind farm was built off the coast of Denmark. Since then, Europe has remained at the forefront of the technology, with 5 GW of installed capacity by 2012, spread across 55 wind farms and ten countries. This accounts for 90% of global installed capacity.
Europe’s first mover advantage in the construction, installation and servicing of offshore wind farms has created 35,000 jobs in Europe and placed us at the heart of a growing world market. Offshore wind also offsets huge amounts of carbon emissions and will provide cheap and consistent electricity supplies, avoiding rising costs of fuel imports.
Currently, wind farms remain within the ‘20x20 zone’ - up to 20 km from the shore and in water depths of up to 20 m. By going deeper offshore, turbines can generate more electricity, as there are greater wind resources than close to land. It has been estimated that the EU’s offshore wind potential could far exceed its electricity consumption if it were adequately exploited.
Leading the way in offshore wind energy
FLOATGEN was initiated by two of Europe’s leading wind turbine manufacturers – Gamesa and ACCIONA Windpower – who will demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of two floating wind turbines in open sea conditions and at depths of over 40 m:
- A 2 MW turbine model on a ring-shaped surface-floating platform (Gamesa, IDEOL and the Stuttgart Chair of Wind Energy at the University of Stuttgart);
- A 3 MW turbine on a semi-submersible structure (ACCIONA Windpower, Navantia and Olav Olsen).
Mauro Villanueva, Technology Development Director of Gamesa and co-ordinator of FLOATGEN noted that: “It is clear that Northern Europe is the world leader for the demonstration of offshore bottom fixed substructures. We, the FLOATGEN partners, and the European Commission, did not want to miss out on the opportunity of also leading the demonstration of offshore floating structures.” In order to spread the benefits of offshore wind energy investments, demonstrations will take place in southern European waters.
By 2015, the turbines will be installed and Fraunhofer IWES and RSK Environment Ltd., will monitor their performance during 2016. Dissemination and exploitation activities are being performed by Greenovate! Europe, with iCons srl and Zabala Innovation Consultancy.
Ambitious targets for new technologies
The consortium will define and validate appropriate methods and processes to install, operate and access deep floating wind turbine systems. Issues include:
- Towing processes to take equipment to its installation place;
- Installation and on-site commissioning;
- Monitoring and countering environmental impacts;
- Assessment of performance, and operational and maintenance costs.
The project will look at the constraints of accessibility to floating structures and create new protocols of operation and maintenance according to weather conditions. The project will also establish criteria and knowledge to show that the costs of floating offshore energy can be made comparable with fixed offshore structures.The results obtained on the performance of each system will be transferred to future deep offshore projects developed by Gamesa and ACCIONA Windpower.