Spanish floating wind start-up X1 Wind has moored the part-scale prototype of its innovative PivotBuoy concept off the Canary islands, after lengthy delays to its original installation plan.

The maiden deployment of the next-gen platform design – which was recently chosen for the European Commission’s NextFloat accelerator that is targetting a commercial-scale installation in the French Mediterranean – will produce power onto a smartgrid linked to the Plocan marine test site off Gran Canaria.

“As summer trade-winds abated, a suitable weather window allowed the partners to complete the installation process, connecting the fully-functional floating wind prototype to the mooring system and dynamic cable pre-installed last June,” said X1 Wind operations manager Jorge Casanovas.

“As installation work comes to a close another exciting chapter begins for X1 Wind as we prepare for operations to deliver first power to the Plocan smartgrid,” he said. “This is the result of a massive team effort.”

The PivotBuoy is a hybrid of a shallow-draft semisubmersbile hull and tension leg platform mooring system with a turbine set in a ‘downwind’ orientation so that the unit weathervanes with the wind, the PivotBuoy has been engineered by Spanish technology developer X1 Wind around lightweight “structural efficiency” and scalability, manufacturability, and “minimising environmental impact on the ocean”.

The prototype, a one-third scale model called the X30 fitted with an adapted Vestas V29 turbine, is moored in some 50 metres of water for a testing programme that is expected to run to March 2023.

X1 Wind CEO Alex Raventos said commercial scale plans “are now gathering pace” for the company and would “leverage the learnings” from the PivotBuoy prototype: “This is a key milestone for our company and for the floating wind sector in general being able to install a floating wind platform using a TLP [tension leg platform] mooring system and requiring only small vessels.

“This reduces not only the costs but also the impact on the seabed. Data obtained from the X30 will contribute to de-risk the technology, improve the design, and obtain the certification of our commercial-scale platforms in preparation for upcoming tenders in Spain and other countries worldwide”, he said.

The wind industry’s first forays into deepwater have counted on technologies adapted from tried-and-true offshore oil & gas platform designs – spars, including the world’s maiden floating unit, Hywind Demo, as well as the first-ever commercial array, Hywind Scotland, and semisubmersible, led by the WindFloat, which was prototyped in 2011 and is now in use on the biggest development to-date, the 50MW Kincardine.

But in their wake, a second generation of concepts, designs such as PivotBuoy that are “industrialisation-engineered” – and in appearance very different from their oil sector forerunners – are now heading out. Read Recharge’s archive of floating wind coverage here.