Offshore Wind Heads To Portugal Via Seattle

Seattle based company Principle Power has announced that they have signed a contract with Energias de Portugal to deploy a 2 megawatt WindFloat off the coast of Portugal. The deep-sea wind turbine will be delivered to Portugal sometime in 2011, but will undergo at least a year’s worth of testing in Agucadoura, site of the world’s first wave farm, before being commercially operational.

Principle Power’s design is a triangular system that floats wind-turbines using a series of buoyancy hulls to keep the rig stable. The set-up itself doesn’t move across the ocean, but allows for the turbine itself to swivel in order to capture more wind. Although the project has various private contributors, part of the money for the system will come from Portugal’s Minster of Economy through a grant called the Innovation Support Fund, which specifically finances wind power initiatives.

image via Principle Power

Deep-sea wind turbines have been in-development for years, with similar models from MIT and other places being designed in the hopes of gathering greater winds farther out from shore. Norway, in particular has been investing in the new technology. Some are V-shaped, others look like the traditional, single-stand turbine, but all have the same goal – stability and portability.

The challenge in finding a design that keeps the wind turbine stable, yet light enough for tugboats to pull into position, is well-worth the trial and error. With wind power being the most efficient renewable energy source currently implemented on a mass-scale, being able to reach winds sometimes twice as powerful as those only a few miles from the coastline is the new gold-rush in the wind power industry. A complete run-down of Principle Power’s WindFloat design can be found in the company’s brochure [pdf].

Aaron Colter is a freelance writer and marketing consultant in Portland, Oregon. A graduate of Purdue University, he has worked for the NCAA, Dark Horse Comics, Willamette Week, AOL, The Huffington Post, Top Shelf Productions, DigitalTrends, theMIX agency, SuicideGirls, EarthTechling, d'Errico Studios and others. He is also the co-founder of BananaStandMedia.com, a free record label, recording studio, and distribution service for independent musicians.