Floating wind project activity is continuing to grow as developers seek to gain a foothold in the deep water offshore wind market.
Norwegian oil major Equinor could soon build the world’s largest floating wind farm after the company gained a permit to develop a 200-MW plant the Spanish-owned Canary Islands.
Some 12 pre-commercial projects for 334 MW of capacity are scheduled to be commissioned in Europe by 2022 and developers aim to build projects on the U.S. West Coast from around 2025. Around 80% of global offshore wind resources, or 4 TW, is located in water depths of over 60 meters, where fixed-bottom designs cannot be used, according to industry group WindEurope.
Floating wind costs are set to plummet in the coming years as developers move from pilot projects to wider commercial deployment. With appropriate support, floating offshore wind costs could drop to 80 to 100 euros per MWh ($90 to $113/MWh) for projects financed by 2025, and fall to 40 to 60 euros/MWh by 2030, WindEurope said in a recent report.
Floating wind foundations offer significantly lower installation costs and can provide greater industrialization gains than fixed-bottom projects, Stiesdal, an offshore wind pioneer and former CTO of Siemens Wind Power, told New Energy Update.
SOT’s TetraSpar floating wind foundation is based on a modular layout, using a tubular steel main structure with a suspended keel. SOT will use industrialized manufacturing processes and pre-assembly efficiencies to reduce installation times. The entire plant is towed to site using tugboats, avoiding higher-cost specialized vessels.
In February, oil major Shell and power group Innogy agreed to take 66% and 33% stakes in the first large-scale TetraSpar demonstration project in Norway. The 18 million-euro project will install a 3.6 MW Siemens Gamesa direct drive turbine with a 130 m rotor diameter in water depths of 200 m.
Floating foundations could be highly competitive in moderate water depths, as well as deep water areas.
Floating designs would require less adaptations according to water depth and seabed conditions, enabling floating wind developers to maximize economies of series, Stiesdal said. “Anchors are much less sensitive to seabed conditions than piles or suction buckets,“ he added.
The installation efficiencies of the TetraSpar design will soon be put to the test, providing valuable cost data for the project partners.
Manufacturing partner Welcon is due to start the fabrication of the first prototype foundation this month and installation is scheduled for April 2020.
SOT has developed three versions of the TetraSpar design based on semi-submersible, tension leg and spar buoy configurations for water depths of 40 to 1,000m, 80 to 500m and 100 to 1000m respectively.
Read the full article from New Energy Update here.