Floatgen is expected to herald lots of offshore wind turbines of its kind off the coasts of Europe.
Installed 22km off the coast of Le Croisic in western France is a wind turbine called Floatgen. It is a fitting name, seeing as the turbine is equipped with a floating foundation. It will now be supplying electricity to some 5,000 people on land now that it has began operating as the country’s first such floating installation.
After its electricity export cable was connected and final tests were conducted, the 2MW floating wind turbine sent the first few kilowatts of electricity to the local grid on September 18 to much fanfare. “This wind turbine is the first operational unit of the floating foundation concept patented by Ideol and built in concrete by Bouygues Travaux Publics,” the project’s operators explain. “A second unit of the Ideol foundation will soon be operational off Japan.”
The concept for the floating wind turbine was designed by Ideol, a French firm that is a trailblazer in offshore wind technology. Floatgen is expected to herald lots of commercial offshore wind turbines of its kind off the coasts of Europe and farther afield. Last year the world’s total offshore wind power capacity was 18,814MW with the largest offshore wind farms all located in northern Europe. Germany and the United Kingdom alone account for more than two-thirds of all offshore wind power capacity in the world.
And plenty more offshore wind installations are on their way. “Go back a few years and people might have had reasonable objections to offshore wind on cost,” observes Matthew Wright, managing director of the Danish energy company Ørsted. “But recently, following power supply auctions in Northern Europe, the United States and Taiwan, we have seen proof that costs are tumbling.”
Higher wind speeds offshore can boost the capacity of wind electricity generation, especially as technology is constantly improving and costs are plummeting. “Back in 1991, the height of a turbine was about half the size of Big Ben,” Wright says. “Our new turbines at Burbo Bank Extension are 195 metres tall and stand twice as high as Big Ben. Only two weeks ago we opened the world’s biggest offshore wind farm, Walney Extension, capable of powering almost 600,000 UK homes.”