WindFloat Atlantic wind farm Wind energy

Floating Wind Farm in Portugal

Windfloat Atlantic is the world's first semi-submersible floating wind farm located in Portugal, 18 km off the coast of Viana do Castelo. It is a pioneering milestone in the field of offshore wind energy.

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The innovative project

The project began in 2011 and opened in 2020, representing a significant advance in the use of renewable and sustainable technologies.

With an installed capacity of 25 MW, it is capable of supplying electricity to around 60.000 users per year and avoiding the emission of approximately 1,1 million tons of CO2 per year, reducing the carbon footprint.

Fig. 1 Floating wind farm on the west coast of Portugal
Fig. 1 Floating wind farm on the west coast of Portugal

Among the advantages of the Windfloat Atlantic are the ability to be installed in deep waters, where wind resources are more abundant.

This feature allows you to explore locations that were previously not accessible for installing wind turbines with fixed foundations.

Furthermore, being a floating platform, it offers flexibility in location and the potential to reduce costs and environmental impacts during installation and maintenance.

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However, there are challenges associated with this innovative technology.

Floating platforms must be robust to withstand very adverse weather conditions, such as storms and giant waves, increasing construction and maintenance costs.

Despite these challenges, Windfloat Atlantic has already demonstrated its resilience and production capacity, having survived severe storms while maintaining operation and energy production.

As mentioned on the WindFloat Atlantic project website, this first floating wind farm, which was “connected to the grid at the end of 2019 and commissioned in 2020, is now completing its third full year of operation, ending the year 2023 with a electrical production of 80 GWh!”

In addition to the electrical production achieved, this wind farm also ended the year 2023 breaking more records, such as with the Ciaran storm which presented unprecedented challenges, with waves reaching an impressive maximum height of 20 meters and wind gusts of up to 139 kilometers per hour”!

This project WindFloat Atlantic not only contributes to Portugal's energy transition to cleaner and renewable sources, but also serves as a model for future developments in the floating offshore wind industry globally.

Windfloat Atlantic is a prime example of how innovation and sustainability can go hand in hand in the advancement of renewable energy. Although on a monumental scale, it shows us the harmony with which these structures coexist with the marine environment.

Fig. 2 Comparative size of the Wind Farm
Fig. 2 Comparative size of the Wind Farm

As the website states, “WindFloat Atlantic is exceeding the production expectations established for this project and, considering that it will be in operation for the next 25 years, the positive impact of WindFloat Atlantic will never stop increasing”.

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WindFloat Atlantic Challenges

The technical challenges facing this Windfloat Atlantic project are multifaceted, reflecting the complexity inherent to innovation in the field of floating offshore wind energy.

One of the main challenges is the engineering and construction of the floating platforms, which must be robust and safe enough to withstand adverse maritime conditions, including large waves and strong winds.

Therefore, platform stability is essential, not only for operational safety, but also for maximizing energy generation efficiency.

Another significant technical challenge is the anchoring of the platforms. The anchoring system must be designed to keep platforms stable in water depths that can exceed 100 meters, which is considerably deeper than traditional offshore wind installations. This requires innovations in terms of both materials and design, as well as installation methods that minimize environmental impact.

Integrating the power generated by Windfloat Atlantic into the existing electrical grid also presents technical challenges. The energy produced by floating wind turbines needs to be efficiently converted and transmitted to the onshore grid, which may require specialized power conversion technology and transmission systems.

Furthermore, the intermittency of wind energy requires energy storage solutions or grid management systems that can handle fluctuations in energy production.

Fig. 3 Floating offshore wind farm
Fig. 3 Floating offshore wind farm

Maintenance of wind turbines and floating platforms is another challenging technical aspect. Maintenance operations at sea are complex and expensive, and access to turbines for repair or replacement of parts can be difficult due to weather and remote locations. Therefore, it is essential that components are reliable and that maintenance strategies are optimized to reduce the need for frequent interventions.

Wind farm energy contributing to the environment

Finally, the development of projects like Windfloat Atlantic must take environmental and social impact into account. This constraint includes assessing and mitigating the effects on marine life and local fishing activities, ensuring that the project coexists harmoniously with the marine ecosystem and coastal communities.

Continuous research and monitoring are essential to understand and minimize these impacts.

Meanwhile, some new technologies are being used, such as a team of underwater robots inspecting the base of the wind farm's turbines for signs of damage while drones check the condition of the blades from the air, such as referred to in the JN of 29/1/2023.

Despite these challenges, Windfloat Atlantic represents a significant advancement in renewable energy and demonstrates the potential for floating offshore wind to contribute to a more sustainable energy future.

In an oceanic country with a huge exclusive economic zone it is strategic to take advantage of all the resources that the sea gives us, not only in wind energy, but also in wave and tidal energy.

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