The North Sea’s first floating wind turbine has been installed at the Kincardine Project, a wind farm located about 15km south-east of Aberdeen.
Developed by Portuguese firm Principle Power, the WindFloat technology was installed by Bourbon Subsea, with Dutch company Vryhof providing mooring solutions. Its semi-submersible platform allows a mooring system to be pre-installed at sea while the turbine itself is readied at a nearby port.
“The WindFloat technology is designed to be fully assembled at the quayside,” said Christian Cermelli, principal naval architect at Principal Power. “Then you go offshore, where you have pre-installed a mooring system, so the lines are waiting for you. So you hook up, connect to the electrical cable and you’re ready to produce, without bringing massive vessels and expensive operations, as is normally the case offshore.”
Once complete, the Kincardine Project will have a total of seven floating turbines, with an installed capacity of 50MW. If successful, the wind farm is likely to be followed by several others. Floating wind has the potential to unlock vast new energy opportunities in the North Sea, as the technology can be deployed virtually anywhere, regardless of seabed depth.
“Many floaters have already been installed in the North Sea by the oil and gas industry, but this is the first semi-submersible installation for floating offshore wind,” said Yvan Leyni, Bourbon Subsea project director.
“The fixed windfarm market will continue to grow at a steady pace for many years, but its development will slow down because of the limitations of water depths. With a floating windfarm, there are no such limitations. We can literally go anywhere. I believe it is the future of offshore wind.”