The unit will be a prototype of a floating offshore wind platform developed and manufactured in the Basque Country 

  • The full-scale prototype will be built at Bilbao Port and trialled over a 24-month period at the BiMEP (Biscay Marine Energy Platform) test site in Armintza.
  • It is scheduled to be installed in October 2021.
  • The BiMEP marine energy test centre has all the necessary infrastructures and licenses to test floating wind turbines.
  • The development of floating technology is of key importance for rolling out offshore wind power in coastal areas with a deep seabed—as is the case in the Cantabrian Sea (the southern Bay of Biscay) and in the majority of the world's coastlines.

Basque engineering firm Saitec this morning signed a contract with the Biscay Marine Energy Platform test site (BiMEP) that will enable installation and testing of a 2 MW floating wind turbine off the port of Armintza, on the Basque coast. The prototype, which uses 100% Basque technology, places the Basque country at the cutting edge of R&D in floating wind technology.
 
The contract fires the starting gun for work on the prototype, culminating next year when the floating wind turbine —known as DemoSATH— is installed at the BiMEP test site, 2 km off the coast of Armintza (Bizkaia). The turbine is scheduled to be put in place in October 2021 after which it will be trialled over a 24-month period.
 
The technology for the device has been developed in its entirety by Saitec Offshore Technologies, an engineering firm based in Leioa (Bizkaia). This is a full-scale prototype consisting of a floating foundation measuring 30 by 67 metres, supporting a 2 MW wind turbine, with the shaft 70 metres above sea level. Water depth at the installation point is 85 metres. The device will be built at facilities in Bilbao port.
 
Once it is up and running, the prototype will be tested in real marine conditions. The power generated will be transmitted to shore via the underwater electrical cables already in place at the BiMEP site and injected into the grid.
 
BIMEP,SA is a publicly-owned company, founded in 2011 to develop, construct, operate, maintain and manage an offshore test platform. It is joint-owned by Ente Vasco de la Energía-EVE (with a 75% stake) and the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge through its Institute for Energy Diversification and Saving, (IDAE) (25%).
 
Global technological challenge 
The development of floating foundations presents a major technological challenge, but advances in this area will be key to global expansion of offshore wind power, since most of the world's seas and oceans are not shallow enough to allow the turbines to be directly secured to the sea bed.
 
This is the case of the Cantabrian Sea, in the southern area of the Bay of Biscay, where the seabed drops to considerable depths just a few metres from the coastline. Future offshore wind farms will therefore depend on the availability of viable and proven floating technology. 
 
BiMEP, fifth anniversary
The project marks the launch of wind power research at BiMEP and coincides with its fifth anniversary (the offshore test infrastructure was opened in 2015 by Basque President Iñigo Urkullu). Since then, BiMEP has participated in European research networks and a range of floating devices for capturing wave energy have been installed and trialled at the site, operating in real marine conditions.
 
All the necessary administrative and environmental processes have now been completed, and in April 2019 BiMEP received authorisation from the Ministry for Ecological Transition to extend its catalogue of services to floating wind devices, meaning that it can now simultaneously host wave energy and wind energy collectors.