The construction works in the Port of Bilbao receive a visit from the Vice-Minister of Industry
- DemoSATH is a pioneering concrete platform developed by the engineering company SAITEC that could revolutionise the development of floating offshore wind systems.
- The work is scheduled to be completed by spring 2022 for subsequent installation at BiMEP in the summer of the same year.
- The technology has been developed entirely in the Basque Country and represents a first experience in grid-connected floating wind solutions.
The platform being built in the port of Bilbao, the raw material for which is basically concrete, is a pioneering system worldwide to support offshore wind power turbines. The technology involved has been developed entirely in the Basque Country and will be tested at BiMEP’s test facilities off the coastal town of Armintza, with a view to making further progress in harnessing marine energy, a key resource for the energy transition in the Basque Country.
The Vice Minister of Industry of the Basque Government, Mr. Javier Zarraonandia, together with the General Manager of the Basque Energy Agency, Mr. Iñigo Ansola, and the CEO of the Saitec Group, Mr. Javier Urgoiti, visited the works where the huge floating platform is being built in the port of Bilbao. The Vice Minister highlighted the value of R&D in the Basque energy sector, as it provides “innovative technical solutions to improve renewable power supply and, at the same time, helps develop a competitive industrial sector that can be exported all over the world”. For his part, Javier Urgoiti stated that “the DemoSATH project manifests the capacity of floating offshore wind as a driver of local industry, as over 70% of related procurement will be conducted in Bizkaia”.
The project, in which the electricity company RWE is a joint partner, was originally presented last summer in Armintza and given the name DemoSATH. The technology involved has been developed entirely by the Basque engineering company SAITEC, whilst the component parts of the platform are being manufactured by Ferrovial in the port facilities themselves. The works are scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2022 and, after its launch, the floating wind turbine will be towed and moored at BiMEP’s facilities in Armintza.
The floating solution will be installed and moored at BiMEP’s test facilities to test its performance, capacity and endurance for two years in real offshore conditions. This is the first time in Spanish state waters that a floating wind solution will be tested in real operating conditions, and the outcome of the experiment could make this technology available for new deep-water wind farms.
Basque technology for offshore wind energy
The technology of this device has been developed entirely by Saitec Offshore Technologies, a spin-off of the engineering company SAITEC, based in Leioa (Bizkaia). The device is a large-size, full-scale prototype consisting of a floating concrete foundation 30 metres wide and 67 metres long, on which a 2 MW wind turbine will be mounted. The axis of the wind turbine will rise 70 metres above the sea surface.
Compared to other materials, concrete offers numerous advantages for offshore floating devices, such as high cost competitiveness, the creation of more local employment, lower maintenance, a reduced carbon footprint and lower price fluctuations compared, for example, to steel.
In fact, the Bay of Biscay, like most of the world’s seas and oceans, has little continental shelf, which means that its waters reach significant depths just a few metres from the coast. This poses major challenges with respect to the deployment of fixed-base offshore wind turbines, as is the case in northern Europe, which is why the development of floating solutions is imperative to advance in new renewable energy uses that contribute to effectively decarbonising the global energy supply. This challenge is being addressed head-on by technology companies around the world, and Basque R&D is at the forefront in this field.
Saitec Offshore, engineering company
Saitec Offshore Technologies is a spin-off of Saitec S.A., which was founded in 2016 to commercialise SATH technology and associated offshore wind engineering services. Originally founded with Saitec staff, Saitec Offshore Technologies has grown and has developed, in addition and complementary to the experience previously acquired by and from its parent company in the energy field, in-depth expertise in offshore engineering. Saitec is an engineering company with more than 30 years of experience and a worldwide presence, with more than 300 people working in 4 different continents. Its main activity is related to project development in different fields, such as roads, railways, water, the environment, industry and energy, and architecture and urban planning. SAITEC’s area of activity covers the entire engineering value chain (planning, design, construction and operation), providing its services to both private and public companies.
BiMEP, testing infrastructure
Commissioned in 2005, the Biscay Marine Energy Platform BiMEP is a marine energy testing infrastructure in and off the coastal town of Armintza. The test area itself is 1.5 miles from the port of Armintza, where floating power generation devices can be moored for testing. BiMEP has all the necessary permits for both offshore wind and wave energy devices, and has four subsea cables connected to land for power evacuation and data transfer purposes for monitoring the systems being tested.