World's first twin-rotor floating wind turbine set for sea-trials

Part-scale W2Power unit to start fast-track programme at PLOCAN test centre in Atlantic

The world's first twin-rotored floating wind turbine has been moored and hooked up at a testing site in the Atlantic Ocean off the Spanish island of Gran Canaria.

The 1:6 scale W2Power prototype, built at the Astican shipyard in Las Palmas, will be trialed over the coming months at the PLOCAN marine testing centre by a development consortium led by EnerOcean.

“[With installation this unit] becomes the first Spanish floating wind platform at sea and confirms its objective to be the most cost efficient floating wind platform solution by reaching this important milestone at a fraction of the development and installation cost of other platforms currently at sea,” EnerOcean president Pedro Mayorga told Recharge.

The 40-tonne prototype, which will fly two “generic” 100kW-class machines on out-leaning towers, has a shallow-draft design that can be adjusted to get in and out of harbour. At full-scale, the W2Power platform is conceived of for a “sweet spot” of water-depths ranging from 35-300 metres.

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The W2Power concept, which has gone through several incarnations since first being introduced to the market in 2009 as a hybrid offshore wind-wave power design, is engineered to support a pair of “off the shelf” 6MW turbines, giving each unit a 12MW nameplate capacity.

Once the W2Power prototype is field-proven, EnerOcean aims to build a 3-5 unit development of up to 60MW, dubbed CanArray, off the Canaries, that could produce power at €100/MWh ($113/MWh). Commissioning of the project, expected to cost €140-€170m, could be as early as 2021.

Jan Erik Hanssen, part of the project team that devised the W2Power concept and co-founded EnerOcean, said he expected the W2Power technology to be “clearly positioned as a front runner” for the 50MW pre-commercial area of the 200MW floating wind tender expected to be launched soon by the Canaries government.

Earlier this month, Norwegian energy giant Equinor secured a permit to build a 200MW floating wind farm off the Canaries, which according to the regional government could start operations as early as 2024 if further regulatory hurdles are overcome this year.

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