BiMEP receives necessary licenses to perform tests on floating offshore wind turbines

  • BiMEP is celebrating its fifth anniversary in 2020 with new global trialling capacities targeted at developers of offshore technologies, making it unique in Europe.
  • Basque industry is developing innovative projects in the area of offshore technology, which will contribute to meeting the decarbonisation goals set for the energy transition.

The Biscay Marine Energy Platform (BiMEP), located off the coast of Bizkaia, has received the necessary authorisations to install and trial new floating wind technologies at its facilities.
BiMEP has now completed the procedure for amending its existing licenses, initially intended for trialling floating wave-power devices. The site will now also be able to host up to two floating platforms with their respective wind turbines, designed to harness offshore wind energy. Under the new licences, wind installations can have a total permitted wind capacity of 10 MW (though there is no obligation to reach that capacity). The change will be fully compatible with the wave energy tests already being carried out at the facilities.
The extension to the operating licenses will make BiMEP a world leader in research into new renewable energy sources, specifically technologies for harnessing wave and floating wind energy. No other testing facility in Europe can offer the same technical conditions (four submarine cables connected to the coast with a simultaneous capacity of 20 MW plus 24-hour surveillance) or global operating licenses as the Basque R&D centre, which targets international technology developers, mainly operating in Europe.
Floating wind power
The new authorisations coincide with BiMEP's upcoming fifth anniversary in 2020. 
The trialling and research infrastructure was set up in 2015, initially to host prototypes for generating electricity from the movement of the waves. However, wind power is currently the renewable energy type with the most mature technology, and it is in this area that the greatest advances will be made worldwide over coming years. Several multi-megawatt offshore wind farms in northern Europe are already operating in shallow waters, where they can be attached directly to the seabed. BiMEP will provide a site for studying new developments which will, in the future, enable offshore wind farms to be located in deeper sites where it is not viable to build foundations directly on the seabed, requiring innovative floating solutions. With its very short continental shelf, the Cantabrian Sea is an excellent example of this type of environment, reaching major depths just a few miles from the coast.
The main purpose of these trials is not so much to generate electricity but to gain a detailed understanding of how the prototypes perform, with a view to introducing technological improvements that will allow their future introduction on the power market. It will also allow technology firms to develop and fine tune strategies for controlling, operating and maintaining these systems, as well as enabling research into new methods to minimise the—already small—environmental impact of floating wind turbines. All of these factors are of great importance in ensuring the competitiveness of the new technology.
Basque Technology for the Energy Transition
The energy transition, with its emphasis on moving towards renewable sources, is facilitating a reduction in the use of fossil fuels while still meeting consumption needs. It requires major technological developments, capable of aligning the goals of decarbonisation and coming up with new solutions to the global climate challenge.
Basque industry is currently developing some important technological projects in this field, which can now be tested under real conditions at BiMEP. This will speed up times-to-market and create sustainable exportable technology from the Basque Country to generate clean electricity, wealth and employment.

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