Catalonia (Spain) will be the first to install wind turbines in the Mediterranean Sea

The so-called project ‘Zefir’ in fact is Catalonia’s way to challenge the competition in offshore wind farms installed in the North Sea. It is a project of the Catalonian institute for energy research (IREC), a group of companies, universities, public administrations.

The group is chaired by the Economy Councillorship of the autonomous government, which announced the projects. The first operational stage will be completed in two years time.

During this period, two or four offshore wind turbines will be installed for a total of 20 megawatt off the coast of Tarragona, between the cape of Tarragona, Salou and Tortosa, 3,5 km from the coast.

The depth of the water, 35m, makes it possible to anchor the turbines directly on the sea bed. The final installation of the small wind farms will depend on the environmental assessment study.

The wind power plants will have to fit into the plans made for marine wind farms by the Environment Ministry. In the second stage of the wind energy project, which includes the installation of six to eight wind turbines for a total of 50 MW, the central government will make the environmental impact assessment.

In this case, the wind turbines will be positioned 20 km off the coast, in waters with a depth of 100m. Here wind the turbines will be anchored to floating structures, which will in turn be fixed to the sea bed.

The advisor for Innovation, Universities and Enterprise of Catalonia, Josep Huguet, explained that the location for the second stage has not yet been selected.

For project ‘Zefir’ a windy stretch of coast has been found. The project organisation has already asked Endesa, a subsidiary of the Italian Enel, to distribute the energy generated by the offshore wind turbines.

The energy generated after the first stage should be enough for 8,000 households. The Spanish government’s alternative energy plan includes the installation of 4.000 to 5.000 MW of off-shore wind power by 2020.

This type of energy has so far only be developed in the North Sea, thanks to the continental shelf that makes it possible to place the wind turbines as far as 60-70 km from the coast and still anchor them to the sea bed at a depth of 25/30 m.

In the Mediterranean Sea, where the continental shelf has different properties, the installation requires the development of new technologies.

Future commercial wind farms in the Mediterranean, the Catalonian Generalitat explains, will be placed on floating anchored platforms between 15 and 20m off the coast.

The only example of this system is the Statoil wind farm, off the Norwegian coast. The group of Catalonian enterprises wants to collaborate with manufacturers of components like Siemens, Alstom, Prysmian, Gamesa, Meteosim, and with companies like Iberdola, Gas Natural or Acciona, to build the platforms for the wind turbines.