World's largest floating wind turbine to be installed in Europe

The wind farm is located 20km off the coast of Viana do Castelo in Portugal

The world's largest floating wind turbine is about to be activated of the Portuguese coast.
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The largest floating wind turbine in the world is set to be installed off the coast of Portugal.

It is the first of three  at the second floating wind farm in the world after the Hywind project off the coast of Scotland. The wind farm is set to generate enough energy to power 60,000 homes.

The project uses WindFloat technology, which enables platforms to be installed in deep water, inaccessible before, where abundant wind resources can be harnessed.

The 8.4-megawatt turbine was created by MHI Vestas turbines

ABS chairman, president and chief executive Christopher J Wiernicki said: "ABS has supported innovation in offshore energy since 1958. This landmark installation underlines how we continue to support promising technology more than 60 years later.

“Floating turbines enable us to reach offshore wind resources in water that is too deep for conventional bottom-fixed turbines. It is breakthroughs such as this that will make a vital contribution to the global transition to clean energy.”

The project is being led by the Windplus consortium, comprising Portugal's EDP Renewables, France's ENGIE, Spain's Repsol and American company Principle Power. The government of Portugal, the European Commission and the European Investment Bank all provided financial support.

It is based on the same principles as the original Principle Power-designed concept, Windfloat 1, that was installed offshore Portugal in 2011.

Steven Barras, chief technical officer at Principle Power, said: "Principle Power is very pleased to work with ABS once again in the framework of the WindFloat Atlantic project, building on the successful collaboration of the WindFloat 1 prototype.

"WindFloat Atlantic represents a major milestone for the floating offshore wind industry as it is the world’s first semi-submersible floating wind farm. We are proud of having led the process of industry standard-setting from the early days, together with ABS, and we look forward to taking the WindFloat technology to full commercialisation around the world."

Due to their floating foundations, floating offshore wind farms are not subject to the same depth restrictions as fixed structures and can be at any depth.

"Large highly-efficient turbines reduce capital costs as well as operating costs, so the deployment of the world's largest floating offshore turbine is a significant milestone in this emerging industry," said Matt Tremblay, ABS senior vice president, global offshore.

Joao Metelo, the chief executive of Principle Power, said Windplus was the first of its kind to be fully developed as a commercial project.

“It really proves the ability to finance floating wind, which until now wasn’t the case," he said.

Offshore wind is expected to play a big role in reaching the EU’s climate and renewable energy targets.

WindEurope expects around 350MW of floating offshore wind to be switched on in Europe by 2021 and a further four to five gigawatts by 2030.

Two further floating wind farms are planned to open in Scotland in 2020 and in the Golfe du Lion, Southern France, in 2021.