Canary Islands: X1 Wind’s Floating Wind Prototype Produces First kWh

(OE) Barcelona-based floating wind technology firm X1 Wind said Tuesday that its X30 floating wind prototype, installed in the Canary Islands, Spain, has produced its first kWh.

The company said the milestone marked the world’s only floating wind platform currently installed with a TLP mooring system. This is also Spain’s first floating wind prototype to export electricity via a subsea cable.

‘First power’ was fed into PLOCAN test site’s offshore platform smartgrid via a 1.4km underwater cable connected to a 20kV transformer. 

The company said that local teams would next enter the last phase of a rigorous test and verification program that started with the platform installation in November 2022, in preparation of the technology industrialization and certification for commercial scale projects currently under development.

X1 Wind CTO and Co-founder Carlos Casanovas said: “First power represents a huge milestone for X1 Wind, and the ‘lift-off’ moment we’ve been building towards for many years. The first kWh is always a symbolic moment for any new energy generation project, and for our team, partners, and supporters, it crystallizes the immense journey we’ve been on and the exciting path which lies ahead. 

“Floating wind is set to play a vital role supporting the future energy transition, global decarbonization, and ambitious net-zero targets. Today’s announcement marks another significant stride forward for X1 Wind accelerating towards certification and commercial scale ambitions to deliver 15MW platforms and beyond in deepwater sites around the globe.”

The X30 platform is equipped with a specially adapted V29 Vestas turbine and an ABB power converter. 

The company says that another key design feature, developed through the EU-backed PivotBuoy Project, combines advantages of SPM and TLP mooring systems. The proprietary SPM design enables the floater to ‘weathervane’ passively and maximize energy yields, with an electrical swivel ensuring electricity transfer without cable twisting. The TLP mooring system also dramatically reduces the seabed footprint, compared to traditional designs proposing catenary mooring lines, minimizing environmental impact while maximizing compatibility with other sea uses, in addition to its suitability to move into deeper waters, the company said.

X1 Wind’s Electrical Engineering Manager Adrian Oliva said: “Our first kWh follows a particularly intense period of activity after the dynamic cable lay, platform load-out and installation. Once installed, we carried out the first round of testing without power, to validate the hydrodynamic behavior of the platform and survivability in severe storm conditions. 

Now generating power, we’ve commenced a second phase to assess the floater behavior during operation. This all forms part of X1 Wind’s extensive testing verification program to fully validate the platform in real world operational conditions and de-risk our technology. 

The novel X30 platform is equipped with all the electrical systems that the commercial platforms will contain, including a commercial turbine, power converter, transformer, slip-ring and dynamic cable as well as our in-house SCADA system with multiple sensors to control and monitor the platform’s behavior in real-time. All this data is being fed into our commercial scale design which is advancing fast working closely with certification body DNV.”

 ABB Project Engineer Ramon Macia said: “In this project we adapted the control for operation on an offshore x30 platform operating in downwind, obtaining excellent results, and highlighting the stability of the platform-turbine unit operating at sea.”

Plataforma Oceánica de Canarias (PLOCAN) CEO Dr José Joaquín Hernández Brito said: “This marks a significant milestone for the Spanish floating wind industry. Spain has established itself as a global leader in innovative floating wind solutions, with numerous companies developing cutting-edge technologies, world-class research groups, and research centers. The government has also demonstrated its support for the sector by implementing new regulations (MSP) and funding initiatives to strengthen testing infrastructure and enable new pilots to advance these solutions. The PivotBuoy project is a prime example of success in this regard, and its accomplishments should inspire future endeavors.”

The PivotBuoy Project officially comes to a close on March 31, 2023, but X1 Wind has requested an extension of the testing period until May before decommissioning the prototype as foreseen in the EU funded project. 

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