Spanish engineering consultancy Saitec Offshore has been awarded a patent for its Sath (Swing Around Twin Hull) floating wind concept by the Japanese Patent Office.
The certification constitutes “a big step for our great ambitions in [this] market”, said Saitec.
The patent-award comes after the Bilbao-headquartered company received a break-out €2m European Commission (EC) grant to build a part-scale version of its innovative concrete-pontoon-based design, which Saitec calculates could generate at a “levelised cost of energy like onshore wind” when built at its full 10MW-plus size.
The 2MW DemoSATH pilot is slated for installation in Q3 2020. The flagship is slated to be commissioned this autumn, with Saitec currently in discussions with several turbine OEMs, though it is not yet disclosing a preferred supplier.
Along with deployment of a flagship prototype, Saitec is also collaborating with a unnamed certification body to advance certification plans for the 10MW-plus SATH floating platforms.
Last year, Saitec tied up via a special purpose company with Spanish-Japanese renewable energy developer Univergy International to develop floating wind projects off Japan.
The Sath design is based on a joined pair of cylindrical pre-stressed concrete hulls anchored to the seabed via a single-point mooring system that allows the unit to swing like a weathervane to face the wind. The concept has previously been put through an extensive part-scale testing campaign in wave tanks at the University of Cantabria’s Instituto de Hidráulica Ambiental.
Spain has splashed onto the floating wind scene with the series of recent announcements, including launch of a 1:6 scale prototype by EnerOcean of a the W2Power concept, and X1 Wind’s recently reeling in of EC funding to commercialise its PivotBuoy design.
The world’s first commercial-scale floating wind farm, Equinor’s 30MW Hywind, was brought on line in late 2017 off the Scottish coast. Four separate 24MW array projects are to be built off France with installation foreseen in 2020-21, following green-lighting by the EU earlier this year.
Portugal also has an array project, the 24MW WindFloat Atlantic, under construction. And back in the UK, the 2MW scout turbine for the 50MW Kincardine array, off Scotland, was moored last year. Ireland is the latest to join the floating wind build-out, with a first unit destined for switch-on in 2022.
Latest calculations from wind industry advocacy body WindEurope suggest some 350MW of floating wind capacity will be switched on in Europe by 2021 via a raft of projects off the UK, France, Portugal and Norway.
From a single industrial-scale prototype in 2009, floating wind has progressed at a clip toward commercialisation. Many analyst forecasts, including those of UK low-carbon business development body Carbon Trust, point to a fleet as large as 15GW by 2030.