World's Largest Floating Wind Farm Begins Generating Power Off Portugal's Coast

BY Tiya Chatterji january 6, 2020

The world's largest floating wind turbine has been installed off the coast of Portugal and connected to the grid, which is now supplying up to 8.4 MW to Portuguese customers. The second platform for the new site has reached its final phase and the third will be ready soon.

The wind turbine floating off the coast in northern Portugal began transmitting electricity to the grid, a crucial step for a technology that could vastly increase the potential for offshore wind power. One of the three platforms that will make up the WindFloat Atlantic off-shore wind farm was connected to the grid via a 20-kilometre (12.4-mile) long cable on New Year's Eve. Once the other two platforms come online, Wind Float will be able to dispense enough clean energy for around 60,000 homes.

The three new WindFloat semisubmersible units are designed by California-based Principle Power and classed by ABS. They cater to the world’s largest wind turbines installed on a floating structure, and the three units off Viana do Castelo, Portugal will produce a combined 25 MW. In general, bigger turbines are more cost-effective per megawatt on a lifecycle basis.

Floating turbines could have a built-in advantage to traditional offshore platforms because they can be placed more readily. The machines can operate in waters much deeper than the relatively shallow sea beds required to anchor stationary masts. The turbines in Portugal float 100 meters (328 feet) above the seafloor, some two-thirds deeper than the maximum depth of fixed offshore farms. Floating wind platform technology is derived from the offshore oil and gas industry, and it promises to efficaciously expand the scope of possible installation sites for wind farms.