Deep waters are the best place for offshore wind-farms, but it is very expensive to build a foundation to support wind turbines in waters deeper than 70 feet. Enter the start-up company, Principal Power. The company developed a floating foundation, the Wind Float, which allows offshore wind turbines in deep waters. The WindFloat, according to the company’s website, “dampen(s) wave and turbine induced motion.”
The company’s president, Jon Bonanno said, “The most prolific minds in the renewable energy business are talking about taking land-based wind and dragging that power out to the coast, which really doesn’t make much sense. It makes much more sense to generate that power from deepwater sources and transmit it to the coast.”
Last fall Principal Power signed an agreement with the Tillamook People’s Utility District in Oregon to install the Windfloat off Oregon’s central coast as soon as 2012. The project will begin with one WindFloat that will be capable of generating a maximum of five megawatts. If the test is successful, the project will cover 12 to 15 square miles, and be capable of generating 150 to 200 megawatts.
Principal Power also signed an agreement with Energias de Portugal (EDP) to test the WindFloat off of the country’s coast. The project will occur in three phases. The first phase will include creating and installing one WindFloat, and phase two and three will consist of both pre-commercial and commercial deployment of the WindFloat.
Principle Power’s CEO, Alla Weinstein said, “As the fourth largest wind energy producer in the world, EDP continues to show their engagement and foresight in the development of offshore wind markets, enabling technology and global renewable energy production.”
“Offshore wind is one of our key innovation priorities,” said Antonio Mexia, CEO of EDP, “The development of floating foundations for wind turbines is a pre-requisite to the development of offshore wind farms worldwide, as areas in which the sea bed is less than 50 m deep are scarce and fixed structures in deeper waters are economically not feasible. We believe the Windfloat may be the correct approach to deep-water offshore wind farms.”
In California, the seabed off most of its coast drops off close to shore. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates that California’s deep water has enough wind to generate up to 130 gigawatts of power.
The American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) is evaluating the WindFloat. The ABS manager of corporate energy, Stephen Newell said, “For ABS, this renewable energy design review provides us with the opportunity to extend established offshore industry practices.”