Germany’s RWE Renewables and Spain’s Saitec Offshore Technologies have collaborated on a pilot project, DemoSath, intending to test new ways to affordably install and operate floating offshore wind farms suitable for use in deep waters, reports T&D World.
The pilot project will begin testing a twin-hulled floating platform for turbines off the coast of Spain from 2021. The SATH technology will have twin hulls constructed from modularly prefabricated and braced steel-reinforced concrete elements that can align itself around a single point of mooring according to wind and wave direction.
DemoSath will collect data and gain knowledge from the construction, operation and maintenance of the unit, and the pilot project will last three-and-a-half years, which includes 18 months for the planning and construction of the unit, followed by a two-year operating phase.
RWE Renewables are financing part of the project, and will be testing solutions for safe and efficient vessel accessibility to the test platform, and conducting replacements for the larger components of the turbine, as well as other technological options for the floating offshore wind concept
Saitec Offshore Technologies is providing the design, project management, operation, maintenance and data treatment during the testing.
Testing begins in April 2020, when the joint venture will deploy a one-sixth scaled model off the coast of Santander, Spain, in the Bay of Biscay. A prototype with a 2MW turbine will be assembled later at the port of Bilbao and then towed to its anchorage point in a test field three km off the coast in 85-metre deep water.
The floating structure will be 30 m wide and 64 m long, and it will be towed, including the turbine, to an anchorage point in a test field two miles off the Basque Coast. It will be moored using hybrid lines made of chains and fibre, anchored to the seas bed to hold the floating platform in position.
The plant is expected to go into operation in the third quarter of 2021, with the electricity generated fed into the Spanish power grid.
RWE Renewables Chief Executive Anja-Isabel Dotzenrath, commented: “We see great potential for floating wind farms worldwide. Especially in countries with deeper coastal waters, this opens up attractive opportunities.
“With DemoSath, we are gaining experience with an innovative concrete-based platform technology that will help us to position ourselves in this growth market.”
Saitec Offshore have stated that SATH has immense potential to reduce the cost of floating wind. Other firms are deploying a triangular platform with the turbine mounted on one corner.
Chief Operating Officer, Luis Gonzalez-Pinto commented: “Now is time to build and operate this floating wind turbine and widen this exciting market. This is an agreement between a well-established player in offshore wind and a young innovative company. We are confident that this combination can provide massive gains for both parties.”
The project marks an acceleration by the power generator into the budding business of making wind turbines float in deep waters that could be crucial in markets such as France, South Korea and Japan.
Japan has constraints to be able to scale up onshore wind and solar projects due to its high population density, and its topography is not conducive to such projects. However, while Japan is land-constrained, it has a lot of coastlines, which allows offshore wind farm projects to be significantly bigger than those that can be built onshore.
The next step for Japan would be floating wind farms, due to the deep seabed’s surrounding the country, and there is interest among investors in Japan to sponsor such projects.
Japan has secured the funding for its first large-scale commercial offshore wind project, as it follows in the footsteps of Taiwan, who aim to generate 20 per cent of its power by renewable energy by 2025.
Japan is the world’s third-largest economy and is aiming to boost the renewables share of its energy mix from 16 per cent to 24 per cent by 2030, with hydropower contributing 9.2 per cent, solar 7 per cent, biomass 4.6 per cent, wind 1.7 per cent, and geothermal 1.1 per cent.
Marubeni Corporation, through a special purpose company called Akita Offshore Wind Corporation, has decided to implement the construction, operation and maintenance of offshore wind farms at the Akita and Noshiro ports in Akita prefecture.
“We see great potential for floating wind farms worldwide,” RWE Renewables Chief Executive Officer Anja-Isabel Dotzenrath commented. “Especially in countries with deeper coastal waters, this opens up attractive opportunities.”
Norway’s Equinor ASA employs another design at its test site in Scotland using a single buoy-like device. The company plans to build a floating wind park using the same concept that will cost as much as $550 million.
Floating wind power, as well as carbon capture and storage (CCS) and hydrogen, will be looked to spearhead the Norwegian oil & gas industry’s transition as it targets cutting its emissions by 40 per cent by the end of the decade and to “near-zero” by 2050.
RWE and Saitec declined to say how much they will spend on SATH. The pilot will operate for about two years from its 2021 start. During that time, the companies will gather data and learn more about the manufacturing process. Power will be fed into the Spanish grid.
Saitec is already in talks with developers who plan to bid into potential government auctions for floating wind projects in Scotland and France, the company’s chief technology officer David Carrascosa said by phone. By 2024, the company expects to scale up from the pilot too much larger machines with at least 10 megawatts of capacity.
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