A cadre of 15 European energy companies and organisations have launched a project to test a new-look floating wind power concept tailored to wind speeds seen in the Black Sea that are considerably lower than off Northern Europe.

The 5MW unit being developed by France’s Eolink for the pilot project off Bulgaria, which will be wired into an operating gas platform run by Petroceltic, the country’s oil & gas company, is based around a pyramidal steel design that promises to cut the mass of metal needed for manufacture by more than 30%, topped-out with 155-metre-diameter”rotor

“The objective of this specific project is to demonstrate the competitiveness of floating wind in lower-wind areas with the deployment of a large rotor diameter,” said Eolink CEO Marc Guyot.

“Winning this award has allowed us to take one step further towards our ultimate goal: offering a viable energy source that is as low-carbon as possible.”

Eolink chief commercial officer Alain Morry pointed to the wind power potential increasingly recognised by global energy players, referencing a recent World Bank report that estimated 166GW in the Black Sea alone.

“This is the equivalent of five times the electricity consumption of Bulgaria and Romania,” he said. “Through this project we hope to catalyse offshore development across the region, which already has ongoing fixed-bottom offshore wind projects in Romania.”

The sixteen European partners involved in the Black Sea Floating Offshore Wind (Blow) project, which is slated to be online in 2025, include Spain’s IREC and Acciona, the Turkish Offshore Wind Energy Association, Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute, and the European Marine Energy Centre in Scotland.

The unit for Blow – launched with the mission of commercialising floating wind technology with a levelised cost of energy (LCOE) of €87MWh ($95MWh) by 2028, and under €50/MWh by 2030 – will be built by GSP, a Romanian shipyard in Constanta, and installed in some 35 metres of water.

The €21m pilot, which now moves into lead-off engineering phase, including environmental and social impact assessments, is the second demonstration project to use the Eolink design, with the France Atlantic Project scheduled to connect the 143-metre-diameter rotor flagship to the French grid next year.

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.

Eolink, which earlier this year won a €6m award from the French government for work on a 20MW floating wind concept, is one of next-generation designers that is departing from offshore oil-inspired platforms, along with companies including Denmark's Stiesdal Offshore Technologies, Spain's X1Wind and Saitec, Norway's World Wide Wind and the US’ T-Omega.