Photo: Eolink

First offshore wind project announced for Bulgaria to use floating wind tech and power gas platform

France-based floating wind technology developer, Eolink, and 15 European renewable energy partners have launched an EU-backed project named Black sea fLoating Offshore Wind (BLOW). The project aims to install a 5 MW floating wind turbine offshore Bulgaria and link it to a gas platform in the Black Sea.

BLOW will use Eolink’s floating offshore wind turbine design, and aims to engineer, manufacture and commission the 5 MW unit by 2025, before rolling out large-scale deployment as part of a wider industrialisation process, Eolink said in a press release issued on 25 January.

The floater, which will power a gas platform operated by the oil and gas company Petroceltic, will be manufactured by GSP offshore, a Romanian offshore services operating company, in their shipyard in Constanta (Romania).

The 5 MW wind turbine that will be installed on the floating foundation will be fitted with a larger rotor to generate more energy in low-wind areas, Eolink said.

Eolink’s CEO and Founder, Marc Guyot, said: “The objective of this specific project is to demonstrate the competitiveness of floating offshore wind in lower-wind areas with the deployment of a large rotor diameter. Winning this award has allowed us to take one step further towards our ultimate goal: offering a viable energy source that is as low-carbon as possible”.

Eolink’s floating wind concept replaces a single wind turbine tower with a set of four thin and profiled arms that replace the classic single tower supporting the turbine. This is said to allow for a lighter structure and a better distribution of the load, reducing installation and maintenance operations. 

For Eolink, the project in Bulgaria will mark the second deployment of its floater in Europe, after the France Atlantic Project, expected to be connected to the French grid by 2024.

The new BLOW project was launched at a kick-off meeting in Belgium on 18 January, when a development plan was laid out for an initial phase including engineering, environmental, and social impact assessment before the project enters the construction phase.

According to the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), one of the project partners, the project, which is one of three to be awarded by the European Commission’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme last year, has a budget of over €21 million and will last for five years, until 31 December 2027. The EU grant contributes a little over €15 million to the project.

CEPS and project consortium lead IREC also say that by coupling synergies with the oil and gas sectors, the BLOW project aims to accelerate the energy transition in the region and foster societal acceptance, and cross-border policy development.

“The World Bank 2021 report indicates there is vast technical potential in South East Europe, with a staggering 166 GW of floating offshore energy in the Black Sea alone, which is the equivalent of five times the electricity consumption of Bulgaria and Romania. Through this project we hope to catalyse offshore development across the region, which already has ongoing fixed-bottom offshore wind projects in Romania,” said Eolink’s Chief Commercial Officer, Alain Morry.

The consortium behind the project is led by José Luis Domínguez, head of the Power Systems group at Spanish-based IREC, with BLOW partners including Eolink, Petroceltic Bulgaria, GSP Offshore, Universitatea Maritima Din Constanta, Beia Consult International Srl, the Centre For European Policy Studies (CEPS), Bexco, Mce Gmbh, Sivas Cumhuriyet Universitesi, Denizustu Ruzgar Enerjisi Dernegi, Fraunhofer Gesellschaft Zur Forderung Der Angewandten, Forschung Ev, Acciona Generacion Renovable, and Minno-Geolozhki Universitet St Ivanrilski, as well as two Associated Partners as Brunel University London and the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC).