A new single point mooring system platform for floating wind turbines that features many unique properties has received funding from the EU Commission Horizon 2020 writes Dag Pike.

PivotBuoy turbine system visualization

PivotBuoy turbine system visualization

The PivotBuoy is a consortium of nine partners which is led by X1 Wind who plan to deploy a prototype of their PivotBuoy at a test site at the Oceanic Platform of the Canary Islands (PLOCAN). The consortium will integrate a part-scale prototype of the PivotBuoy into a downwind floating wind platform designed by X1 Wind at the test site.

A spokesperson for X1 Wind said, “The plans are to have the system installed by 2020, and to have other innovations relating to the assembly and installation which will also be validated. The project will officially start on 1 April and will last for 36 months.”

The PivotBuoy is a unique mooring system that allows a ‘platform attached to it to ‘weather vane’, thus maintaining the position of the turbine in relation to the wind direction. This keeps the turbine blades in position downwind and removes the need for a rotating turbine mounting. The turbine itself is mounted on a triangular lattice structure. Once proven, the technology claims to be able to reduce platform weight by as much as 80 per cent and costs by 50 per cent, savings that should help make floating wind competitive.

The project aims to validate the benefits of the PivotBuoy system and other key innovations to reduce installation, operation and maintenance costs, paving the path to achieve €50/MWh in commercial-scale wind farms.

First backed by EIT InnoEnergy, Europe’s sustainable energy innovation engine, the platform can operate at an increased water depth, compared to other floating solutions, opening up hundreds of sites, which were previously technically or commercially inaccessible, according to X1 Wind. The system is said to combine advantages of Single Point Mooring systems (SPM) with those of Tension-Leg Platform systems (TLP) and a more efficient downwind structural design, enabling a radical weight reduction in floating wind structures compared to current spar and semi-submersible systems.

Alex Raventos, the CEO at X1 Wind, commented “In the last decade, a number of prototypes have successfully proven floating wind is technically feasible, but costs need to be reduced by at least 50%.”