offshore wind farm

Ocean Winds awaiting offshore wind auction rules before investing

“We cannot say outright that we’re interested”

Ocean Winds, an offshore wind company owned by EDP Renováveis (50%) and Engie (50%), is awaiting regulation of the offshore wind auction that the government has promised to launch by the end of the year, in order to make an investment decision.

“Without knowing what the conditions are, we can’t say outright that we’re interested. Of course, we’re in the Portuguese sea, we have more than a decade’s experience of developing floating wind technology. We’re operating (Windfloat Atlantic) with good performance levels and so we’re patiently waiting for the regulations to allow a clear, long-term investment,” said Windfloat Atlantic project director, José Pinheiro, today.

Speaking to Lusa news agency on the sidelines of a visit by the president of the Portuguese Order of Engineers, Pinheiro explained that Windfloat Atlantic is “waiting for the areas (Technological Free Zone) to be defined in the Plan for Maritime Spatial Planning and for all the regulations that will allow access to the water domain, the connection point and remuneration for the electricity produced“. 

The project to create an offshore wind farm in Portugal, with a capacity of 10 GW, has delimited Viana do Castelo, Leixões, Figueira da Foz, Ericeira-Cascais and Sines as possible areas for exploiting renewable energies.

“We are waiting, as is the whole sector, for clear regulation, for the tender rules that will apply. We are interested, but it has a lot to do with the intersection between the rules that allow investment and our investment profile,” said Pinheiro.

The first competitive tender procedure will be opened by the end of 2023, as announced in May by the secretary of state for energy, Ana Fontoura Gouveia. The winner will be known in 2024.

The secretary of state said that “certainly” the auction will be launched this year, reiterating that the “process will be gradual”, with “more auctions planned over the next few years”.

The government has set itself the ambition of reaching an installed offshore wind capacity of 10 GW by 2030, to be allocated by auction.

But the sticking points will be very much around “access to the water domain” – a phrase that gives little indication of its importance: fishing fleets are adamant that wind farms signal the end of their activity. They say fishing grounds cannot, and should not, be prohibited – arguing that even the presence of these massive turbines can prove catastrophic for marine fauna.

Giving the example of the Windfloat Atlantic project, already in existence, fishing associations have stressed how “fish has simply disappeared” from the area.

Then there are the prohibitions also envisaged for stretches through which underwater cables are laid, connecting offshore platforms to the grid onshore.

Up till now, fishermen have simply refused to accept that their livelihoods could be so severely impacted.

Environmental NGOs have also entered the fray, demanding that at least three of the concession areas for windfarms should be scrapped.

Source material: LUSA