Italy’s – and likely the Mediterranean’s – first offshore wind project, a 30MW nearshore array off the southern Italian town of Taranto, has reached financial close, consultancy Mott MacDonald said.

Offshore installation and commissioning is expected late this year, and owner's engineer Mott MacDonald expects commercial operations in 2020. Turbine installation had originally been planned for 2018.

Unlike three initial pilot offshore arrays in the French part of the Mediterranean that will be floating, and expected to be online in 2021, the Taranto project will be bottom-fixed in water depths of 3-18 metres.

“We’re proud to be part of the first commercial scale offshore wind farm in the Mediterranean Sea. This wind farm represents a great milestone for the market in southern Europe and we hope it may be the first of many,” said Filiberto Tartari, Mott MacDonald’s project manager.

The project is being developed by Italian developer Renexia, a subsidiary of the Toto Group, which had bought it from Belgium’s Belenergia last year. Renexia is also developing an offshore wind project off the US state of Maryland.

“This project … is part of a wider strategy in the wind power industry that Renexia is pursuing in the US through and important pipeline and also worldwide with many other projects,” said Riccardo Toto, managing director of Renexia.

Germany-based wind OEM Senvion in 2017 had signed an exclusivity agreement with Belenergia to supply 10 of its 3.0M122 machines adapted for offshore use for the project off Taranto’s harbour in the Italian region of Apulia, that has been passed on to Renexia.

Senvion said it has developed a customised an installation procedure suitable for the near shore wind farm. The OEM will provide full maintenance services for a period of five years with an extension option for up to 25 years.

“We are excited to execute this wind project as it is not only the first offshore wind farm in the Mediterranean Sea, but also showcases Senvion’s capabilities to create tailor-made solutions," said Carlo Schiapparelli, managing director of Senvion Italy.

David Hardy, executive director & CSO of Senvion, adds: “The offshore wind market is diversifying in terms of regions, wind regimes and solutions. This requires from vendors innovative approaches and technologies.

"For this project, Senvion has been able to leverage its experience, and develop for Renexia an offshore version of its 3.0M122 wind turbine. This modular approach is promising for many offshore markets around the globe.”

The Taranto project had gained the right for 25 years of support at a level of €161.70 ($184.20) per megawatt hour at an Italian renewable energy auction in December 2016 that mostly allocated support for onshore wind projects.

UPDATES with comment from Senvion