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Floating foundation's €7m boost

French floating foundation developer Ideol has secured some €7m ($9.1m) to press ahead with industrialisation of its innovative concrete concept, as part of a 2MW offshore wind turbine prototype.

The funds – stumped up by cleantech investment capital firm Demeter Partners, Sofimac Partners and Soridec – will pave the way for the construction of a demonstrator unit being built with turbine-maker Gamesa and Stuttgart University under the EU-backed €36m FloatGen project.

The Ideol floater is based around a square, open-centred platform design, moored to the seabed using a catenary-style spread of chain lines, or hybrids of chain and synthetic rope, with “soil-specific” anchors.

The concept, which derives stability and buoyancy in large part from a structure of airtight internal chambers set about a patented “damping pool”, is foreseen for mega-class turbines of up to 10MW in deep water locations – but is expected to be competitive with seabed-fixed technologies in depths as shallow as  35-40 metres.

“Offshore markets and perspectives are very capital-intensive, and Ideo’s ability to harness various financing sources, private ones as much as public ones, is a key factor to success," says Ideol chief executive Paul de la Guérivière.

“This fund-raising and the partnership with two VCs [venture capitalists] of reference in the European cleantech marketplace, confirms [our] unique expertise, demonstrates the pertinence of its technology developed over the past years, and confidently continues its ambitious development programme.”

Pascal Voulton, chairman of Sofimac, adds: “The company innovation will enable the deployment of offshore wind farms in deeper waters with high operating constraints. The solution developed will harness today’s technological limits and contribute to the production of competitive clean energy.”

The 2MW floater being built with the Ideol foundation is one of two new-look designs being advanced through FloatGen, an FP7 (7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development) project.

The other 3MW unit based on an Acciona AW-3000 turbine, with a triangular semi-submersible to be designed by Spanish shipbuilder Navantia and offshore construction specialist Olav Olsen of Norway.

With construction of the pair scheduled for next year, installation of the FloatGen prototypes could happen in the first half of 2015, with 2016 dedicated to monitoring and testing the units in the open seas, overseen by German research organisation Fraunhofer IWES and environmental consultancy RSK, according to FloatGen co-ordinator Mauro Villanueva-Monzón.

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