WindFloat project ushers in a new era of offshore wind energy


The WindFloat Agucadoura unit is a Vestas 2 MW floating wind turbine moored in water depths of slightly less than 50 meters, 4 km offshore the northern coast of Portugal.

Portugal’s first offshore wind turbine – a floating offshore wind turbine called the WindFloat Agucadoura – has been installed and certified.

ABS, the leading provider of classification services to the global offshore industry, has provided certification services for the design, fabrication and installation for the first WindFloat facility. The WindFloat Aguçadoura unit is a 2 MW floating wind turbine moored in slightly less than 50 m water depth 4 km offshore the northern Portuguese coast.

The WindFloat project is the first offshore wind deployment in the world that did not require heavy lift equipment offshore. Final assembly and pre-commissioning took place in a controlled shoreside environment. This installation also is the first deployment of a semisubmersible structure supporting a commercial-size wind turbine.

ABS design review engineers in Houston and ABS surveyors on site at the fabrication facilities in Portugal worked together with the developers and builders during the design, fabrication and installation phases of the project.

ABS certification of the semisubmersible and the mooring system was based on the applicable sections of ABS Offshore Rules and Guides and the ABS Guide for Building and Classing Offshore Wind Turbine Installations. The tower and the turbine were not part of the ABS certification.

The WindFloat is the result of the cooperative efforts of the partners that make up the WindPlus joint venture, an international group led by Portuguese power provider Energías de Portugal (EDP), which, through its Renewable Energy division, is the world’s third-largest supplier of wind energy, and the Spanish oil giant Repsol. Other Windplus JV partners are Principle Power Inc., a US energy technology developer based in Seattle, Washington, and a holder of the Windfloat patent, two Portuguese companies, a steel fabricator A. Silva Matos, and a Portuguese State venture fund InovCapital. The Danish wind turbine producer Vestas Wind Systems provided its V-80 2 MW turbine for the project.

“Up until today, all offshore wind farms have been based on bottom fixed foundations in water depths less than 30 m,” says ABS Offshore Account Manager Lars Samuelsson. “As we go deeper, floating offshore wind turbine foundations may become a cost-effective alternative.”

ABS Chairman Robert D. Somerville attended the inauguration of the Windfloat on 16 June 2012. “As wind demonstrates massive potential as a source for renewable energy, ABS is proud to partner with projects such as the WindFloat,” Somerville says. “With our decades of offshore experience, we have a great existing body of knowledge that we can use to develop guidelines for the next generation of projects that capture growing alternative energy sources such as wind.”

Founded in 1862, ABS is a leading international classification society devoted to promoting the security of life, property and the marine environment through the development and verification of standards for the design, construction and operational maintenance of marine-related facilities.