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FloatGen passes first stretch at sea with flying colours

French floating wind flagship churned out 2.2GWh in first six months of 2019 with 'better than onshore' power curve

France’s first floating wind turbine, the FloatGen prototype brought online last autumn off the west coast of the country, has “exceeded expectations” in its first half-year of full operation, producing 2.2GWh of power for the European grid.

Data collected at the SEM-REV test site where the prototype is part-way through two-year trials show uptime on the unit, a 2MW Vestas turbine atop a concrete ‘damping pool’ platform developed by French outfit Ideol, rising from 68% in the first quarter to over 90% in the second with a “better than onshore” power curve.

“The measurements acquired by more than one thousand sensors installed on all the components of the wind turbine and its substructure have been fully in line with the company’s initial simulations, validating the accuracy of the models developed by [our] engineers,” Ideol said in a statement, noting that the “progressive validation” of the prototype “should allow [us] to reach the final targeted availability before the end of the year”.

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Ideol highlighted that FloatGen’s high availability and production levels took place in an often harsh marine environment, where waves can crest at over 11 metres – and Storm Miguel, which passed through the test site on 7 June bringing a combination of 8.5 metres waves and winds of up over 100km/h, did not disrupt normal “operations and production”.

An Ideol spokesperson told Recharge it was “currently finalising the choice of a certification body and expected to receive certification [for the operational data] by the end of summer/beginning of autumn”.

Construction of FloatGen, located in 35 metres of water some 22km off Brittany, was underwritten by €25m ($29.2m) in European Commission (EC) financing. Last autumn, Ideol landed a further €2.5m grant from the EC to underpin plans to move the floating wind platform concept toward mass production for commercial-scale 500MW-plus projects.

Ideol is in one of four consortia currently building floating wind arrays off France that were recently given the formal go-ahead by the European authorities.

A second Ideol prototype, a steel version topped with a 3.2MW Aerodyn two-bladed turbine, has weathered three typhoons since being installed off Japan last autumn as part of project being run by Nedo, the island nation’s government-funded industrial R&D department.

Last week, Ideol announced that it had signed a deal with Japanese renewable energy developer Shizen Energy to build the first commercial-scale floating wind farm, a “multi-hundred-megawatt” project in the East China Sea.

The European floating wind industry is moving into mass production mode, with 350MW forecast by WindEurope to be on line by 2022 off the UK, France, Portugal and Norway. Globally, forecasts are for more than 15GW to be anchored offshore by 2030

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