A €31 million project has been approved for an ambitious four-year floating offshore wind project. Subject to consenting, it is planned that a full-scale floating wind turbine be deployed for testing off the west coast of Ireland at a Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) test site near Belmullet, Co. Mayo, by 2022. The project is led by the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) working in partnership with SEAI, SAIPEM and other organisations in France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, and the UK.
Funding for the project has been secured from Interreg North West Europe to accelerate the uptake of floating offshore wind. The project will demonstrate the survivability and cost-competitiveness of a floating offshore wind technology. It will also support the development of an active supply chain in the region which has some of the strongest wind and ocean resources in the world. The project is known as AFLOWT (Accelerating market uptake of Floating Offshore Wind Technology) and is the first project of its kind at such scale to draw on expertise from right across Europe.
Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton T.D. said:
“Decarbonising our electricity supply will be crucial to becoming a leader in climate change. We are fortunate in Ireland to have such a fantastic wind energy resource. Almost one third of Ireland’s electricity currently comes from renewables, with wind being the highest contributor. However, we need to step up our ambition in this area and stretch ourselves farther. I welcome this project as an excellent opportunity to further explore the potential of offshore wind.”
Commenting on the reasoning for choosing offshore wind, Oliver Wragg, Commercial Director at EMEC said:
“Over the past 15 years EMEC has hosted more ocean energy technologies at its real sea test berths in the UK than any other facility in the world. We have developed a wealth of knowledge and expertise that can now be transferred to the testing and demonstration of floating offshore wind to help it make the most cost effective and rapid transition to commercialisation.”
EMEC is thrilled that this project will enable continuation of the important work that EMEC has been conducting with SEAI on development of offshore test sites in Ireland over the past four years. If floating offshore wind technology can operate reliably and efficiently on the west coast of Ireland, it will work anywhere. Through this project we hope that the successful technology demonstrations will fundamentally expand the global offshore wind market.”
Jim Gannon, Chief Executive of SEAI said:
“SEAI is delighted to be part of the consortium and welcomes this initial step of gaining support from Interreg. We recognise that there are many significant steps to be taken to deliver this ambitious project and we will work with all project partners and local and national stakeholders to maximise local and national benefits. This project will show Ireland’s strengths, not only in terms of its significant wind resources, but also as a responsive, innovative and agile country”.
Stefano Porcari, Chief Operating Officer of Saipem's E&C Offshore Division and CEO of SAIPEM SA said:
“SAIPEM continues its commitment to diversify its core business to offering modern solutions to the renewable energy market. This project represents for us a unique opportunity to prove our Floating Wind technology in severe environments. This full-scale floating turbine complements SAIPEM sets of integrated services part of the fixed offshore wind capabilities consolidating the pioneering spirit of our company which pushes the boundaries of the Energy Industry a bit further. Together with our consortium partners, we will work on the feasibility and the cost effectiveness of this floating offshore wind project for a low carbon emission energy environment.”
SAIPEM SA will be supported by project partners with research and development insights coming from Cable Life Cycle Assurance (CaLiCyA) in France, Maritime Research Institute Netherlands (MARIN), Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy Systems (IWES) in Germany, University College Cork and Electricity Supply Board Engineering & Major Projects (ESB E&MP) in Ireland.
EMEC will manage the project from the UK, with the initial kick off meeting of partners taking place in Dublin on March 12th. Once planning, permitting and supply chain requirements are in place, the floating turbine will be tested for a year at SEAI’s Atlantic Marine Energy Test Site (AMETS) off the west coast of Ireland. Deployment is currently planned for 2022. By testing at AMETS, the technology developed in AFLOWT will be proven in the harshest of North West Europe’s offshore environments, readying it for application at any deep-water offshore environment across the world.