EU floating wind flagship feeds back record-setting proof of techology's 'high power' promise

14 02 2023 | 08:08Darius Snieckus / RECHARGE

FloatGen unit built of a 2MW Vestas turbine and BW Ideol 'damping pool' platform rides out winter storms to deliver at maximum output 60% of the time in French Atlantic

The EU’s FloatGen floating wind flagship has run at maximum power almost 60% of the time through the last three months – much higher than conventional bottom-fixed turbines, furnishing further proof of the technology’s potential to delivery high and steady output from deeper water sites.

The record-setting data from the unit, a 2MW Vestas turbine mated to a BW Ideol ‘damping pool’ platform, adds to that collected over a year on the region’s first-ever commercial floating wind array, the 30MW Hywind Scotland brought online by Equinor in the North Sea in 2017, which produced power at a 57.1% capacity factor through 2021.

“FloatGen continues to deliver outstanding results in terms of reliability, efficiency and production,” said BW Ideol CEO Paul de la Guérivière. “[The unit’s performance] keeps on validating the merits of our unique floating wind technology, even in the harshest environments.

“Such repeated performance, high availability and consequently high capacity factor underlines the benefits of floating wind and its ability to capture the best possible wind resources without depth constraints, contributing to a much needed energy resilience in the process.”

Installed five years ago, FloatGen has operated in wind speeds of over 37 metres per second – equal to almost to 135kmh (85mph) – and waves more than 10 metres tall, moored in 33 metres of water at its test site off Brittany. In January, in the weeks after Atlantic storm Gerard blew through, the unit crossed the 25GWh total production milestone.

As well as trialling floating wind power production, FloatGen has also hosted experiments with technologies such as nacelled-mounted ‘wind reading’ Lidar and hydrogen generation, as well as for helicopter rescue scenario planning.

The BW Ideol platform is in the frame for a multi-gigawatt pipeline of international floating wind projects, including off Japan, where it has installed its 3MW Hibiki pilot unit, France, the US and Scotland, where it is building the 1GW Buchan project as part of the Floating Wind Allyance.

Consultancy DNV calculates floating projects currently make up over 15% of the total offshore wind deployment in the pipeline for switch-on by mid-century, equal to some 264GW of the 1,750GW slated to be installed.