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Japan, California, France, Scotland… The Spanish floating wind wants to sail the seas of the world.

Spain was in 2018 the third country in the world in net value of industrial exports of wind technology, only surpassed by Denmark and Germany, according to a study by IRENA, and now this sector is preparing to make a bigger leap and occupy a good starting position thanks to the floating offshore wind.

26/11/2019

periodicodelaenergia.com

This is the case of the Spanish engineering firm Saitec Offshore, which is going to install its BlueSATH project, a floating marine platform on scale, at Abra del Sardinero (Santander) throughout the first quarter of 2020 and which will be tested over a period of 12 months.

The objective is to start a test in real conditions of a floating wind turbine at a scale of 1:6 of a model of 10MW. The SATH floating platform technology, an acronym for Swinging Around Twin Hull, is one of the alternatives that exist in floating wind and already has good market prospects.

“This is a scale test, and twelve months later, we will take our technology to the next model, which this time will be a full scale (2MW) and will be installed in the Basque Marine Energy Platform (BIMEP) from 2021,” David Carrascosa, technical director of Saitec Offshore, explains to this newspaper.

However, there are already good prospects for these floating marine platforms. “We are already working in Japan, since 2016 we signed an agreement with the Hispanic-Japanese Univergy to develop offshore wind projects there, although they are still in the experimental phase.

And in addition to Japan, Saitec recognizes that other countries are already interested in its technology. “We are working intensively for floating offshore wind farms in France, Scotland, and California, although the interest extends all along the west coast of the U.S., because it has similar characteristics to the Spanish, meaning that there is no continental shelf and immediately the sea depths are enormous,” adds Carrascosa.

“There are several different points that make our technology different from other floating marinas”, points out the technical director of the company, “the first is the competitiveness of the platform, because it reduces the energy cost during construction, using concrete as the main material, the second is that it is possible to make the complete assembly (turbine, tower and base) in the port, which reduces the cost, and is further reduced by its low draft.

“Another point that reduces costs is that as the construction work is done with concrete, and is a material that exists anywhere in the world, we should not think about the need for there to be shipyards or another type of new non-existent industry wherever we go with our technology,” adds Carrascosa, “And finally, we also reduce costs because of the anchorage system we use, Single Point Mooring (SPM), which means that all our lines of chains, between 3 and 6, come from the same point on the platform and are anchored to the seabed distributed every 120º, which minimizes risks and reduces costs.

It is, in short, an innovative, competitive and efficient solution for floating offshore wind, which has been validated in numerous tank tests since 2014.

The BlueSATH pilot project off the coast of Santander aims to validate the dynamic behaviour of the SATH platform and the analysis of its environmental impact. To this end, the different areas affected during construction, installation and operation will be studied: carbon footprint, aquatic environment, waste, etc. The numerical models of the previous phase of detail engineering will also be compared and validated in order to obtain models that allow a final optimization of the structure, reducing costs and verifying the structural integrity of the wind turbine.

The possibilities are enormous. According to the Offshore Wind Outlook 2019 report, the offshore market has grown by around 30% a year in the period between 2010 and 2018 and is expected to increase 15 times its capacity in the next two decades. And the versatility of the float will allow it to play a leading role.

But while commercially viable projects arrive, during these months in Santander the variables that best predict the damage in the different elements of the structure will be identified, so that its useful life can be predicted through a series of sensors.  In addition, the possible challenges and risks derived from the logistics and transport of the demonstrator from the fabrication/assembly location to its final operation location will be identified.

With regard to the operation and maintenance of the floating wind turbine, the necessary operations will be established to ensure optimum operation thanks to the platform’s accessibility system.

According to a statement from the company, 75% of the subcontracting budget has been allocated to companies in the region and has had the participation of members of the Cluster Seas of Innovation Cantabria such as: the Port of Santander, IHCantabria, DEGIMA, ASTANDER and ACORDE.

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