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Offshore Wind

Floating wind turbine officially inaugurated in Portugal

Floating wind turbine officially inaugurated in Portugal
The turbine is installed on a floating foundation called the WindFloat

Portugal's first offshore wind turbine has been inaugurated this June 16, adding 2 megawatts to the country's grid.

The project is a joint effort of Principle Power, Energias de Portugal, Repsol, A. Silva Matos, Vestas Wind Systems A/S and InovCapital, with a subsidy from the Innovation Support Fund. Some 60 other European suppliers, 40 of them Portuguese, supplied components to the project as well.

Located 5 kilometers off the coast of Agucadoura, Portugal, the system can provide electricity to 1,300 households, and has already produced an excess of 1.7 gigawatt-hours. It stands 54 meters tall, and it weighs 1,200 metric tons.

The turbine is installed on a floating foundation called the WindFloat, a project of Vestas and Energias de Portugal, with the cooperation of Principle Power and A. Silva Matos.

"Floating foundations are one of the solutions with the highest potential for harvesting wind in deeper waters and the WindFloat project was a highly interesting possibility for us to help explore this area within offshore wind," says Vestas chief executive Ditlev Engel.

Features of WindFloat include dampening wave and turbine induced motion which will allow offshore wind turbines be placed in locations where water depth exceeds 50 meters, where wind resources are better.

The offshore wind turbine was also the first to be installed without using heavy lift vessels or piling equipment at sea.

After assembling, installing, and pre-commissioning the turbines and substructure, the complete product is then shipped to the site offshore using simple tug vessels.

The turbine has already endured a harsh winter environment in the open Atlantic, withstanding waves of up to 15 meters as of the close of 2011 and performing within expectations.

The developers are also looking into future projects, and already-existing infrastructure like shipyards are seen to have the potential to support the offshore industry.

Meanwhile Energias de Portugal is set to build a larger windfarm using the WindFloat, and is waiting for funding from the European Union, near the city of Povoa do Varzim.

"After the prototypes are fully tested, we start with the commercial phase in two years' time, with the objective of starting to have some return on the investment," Pedro Valverde, the project manager at EDP, said. – N.P. Arboleda

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