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EU Project Pioneers Floating Offshore Concept in Low-Wind Black Sea

testing offshore wind in low wind region
Eolink concept for a floating offshore wind turbine will be tested in a low wind region in the Black Sea (eolink)

Published Jan 27, 2023 4:24 PM by The Maritime Executive

A unique project funded by the European Union and involving 16 companies from the European energy community is getting underway to demonstrate the use of flowing offshore wind farms and the possibility of generating power in low-wind regions. Known as the Black Sea Floating Offshore Wind (BLOW) project, it is one of three awarded funding by the European Commission’s Horizon Europe research and innovation program.

“The objective of this specific project is to demonstrate the competitiveness of floating offshore wind in lower-wind areas with the deployment of a large rotor diameter,” explained Eolink’s CEO and Founder, former Renault engineer Marc Guyot. “Winning this award has allowed us to take one step further towards our ultimate goal of offering a viable energy source that is as low-carbon as possible.”

The project aims to install a 5MW floating wind turbine in the Black Sea off the Bulgarian coast. BLOW will use Eolink’s floating offshore wind turbine design, and aims to engineer, manufacture, and commission the 5MW unit by 2025. Eolink’s patented concept addresses ongoing industry issues by spreading the turbine’s stresses using four steel masts instead of one, while also offering a competitive weight-to-energy ratio that makes the overall structure more than 30 percent lighter. 

“The World Bank 2021 report indicates there is vast technical potential in South East Europe, with a staggering 166 GW of floating offshore energy in the Black Sea alone, which is the equivalent of five times the electricity consumption of Bulgaria and Romania,” said Eolink's Chief Commercial Officer, Alain Morry. “Through this project, we hope to catalyze offshore development across the region,” as part of the goal to expand beyond the ongoing fixed-bottom offshore wind projects in Romania.

The company says the BLOW project is a first step toward rolling out large-scale deployment as part of a wider industrialization process. The Black Sea project is the second deployment of Eolink’s concept in Europe. The company is also working on the France Atlantic Project, which aims to be connected to the French government grid by 2024.

The kick-off meeting for the project took place on January 18 in Belgium and laid out a development plan that will see an initial phase of engineering, environmental and social impact assessment before entering the construction phase. The unit will be designed to operate with maximum efficiency in the Black Sea, including adapting it with a larger rotor so it can generate more energy in low-wind areas.

The sixteen European partners include Spanish-based IREC and Acciona, the Turkish Offshore Wind Energy Association, the German research organization the Fraunhofer Institute, and the European Marine Energy Centre in Scotland. The unit will be connected to an existing gas platform operated by Petroceltic, a Bulgarian oil and gas company. GSP offshore, a Romanian offshore services operating company, will manufacture the unit in their shipyard in Constanta, Romania.