The door is wide open for Portugal to become a global leader in offshore wind, a Lisbon conference heard.
Principle Power Chief Commercial Officer Aaron Smith said Portugal has an enormous opportunity to capitalise on clear natural advantages – while speaking at WavEC Offshore Renewables annual seminar, titled ‘Paving the Way for Large Scale Offshore Wind Deployment’.
It comes just weeks after Portugal kicked off the preparatory process for its first offshore wind auction with ambitions to lease 10GW through a total investment of 30-40 billion euros ($33-44 billion) by 2030.
Principle Power is responsible for delivering the first floating windfarm in continental Europe, and Portugal’s first offshore wind initiative, as part of the WindPlus consortium. Situated 20km off the coast of Viana do Castelo, WindFloat Atlantic’s three giant wind turbines stand 185m above the ocean surface.
The innovative project delivered first power in 2020 ushering several world records, including the first full-scale project to use semi-submersible technology, and the first floating wind farm to secure bank financing. WindFloat Atlantic is now powering 25,000 homes with clean, renewable energy. Principle Power has built a 50-strong team in Portugal, which Smith describes as the company’s spiritual home.
“The door is wide open for Portugal,” said Mr Smith. “How can it capitalise on the opportunity? First is to realise the drivers of project schedules – these are typically long term projects, with many potential obstacles between initial auctions and construction. Learning from the 20plus years’ experience of the highly skilled and knowledgeable Netherland’s administration, having a staged auction process is the right approach. It’s absolutely critical to tackle long-lead items – like grid connection, permitting and port infrastructure – from the outset. With this, there needs to be a framework to keep those things moving. We need that certainty and timing. Moreover, there needs to be recognition that these projects are of national interest.
Ricardo Rocha, Technical Director Offshore Wind at BayWa r.e. said if Portugal can build a sustainable base of experience, it will form a solid foundation for competitive future projects. “This will be incredibly beneficial to a country like Portugal which is blessed by its location, facing the US market, while also being entrenched in the European market not only in the Atlantic but also the Mediterranean. If Portugal gets a successful industry moving here, catalysed through its own domestic market, the benefits from a supply chain and economic development perspective will be huge.”
Marcel Deurhof, Project Director of Offshore Energies at Madoqua Renewables, said the seminar provided an opportunity to connect with a broad range of industry experts looking to develop export-import value chain hubs with potential production roots in Portugal: “There is no doubting the scale of Portugal’s offshore wind potential. If it manages to effectively harness this opportunity, it could transform the country, firing up supply chains and supporting new industries in the process, including the production of hydrogen and hydrogen related derivatives.”
The event was staged by WavEC Offshore Renewables, in collaboration with the Embassy of the Netherlands in Portugal, attracting global leaders from across the offshore wind sector.
Key themes covered during panel discussion included ‘Offshore Wind Policy – lessons learned and looking ahead’, ‘Industry Overlook on the Portuguese Opportunity’, ‘Port Infrastructures Enabling Offshore Renewable Energies and Hydrogen Expansion’, ‘Mitigating Risks and Developing Supply Chain’ and ‘Sustainable Seas: A Deep Dive into Multi-Use Marine Energies and Aquaculture’.
Panellists included Michel Heijdra, Director General for Climate and Energy, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy of the Netherlands, Margriet Leemhuis, Ambassador of the Netherlands to Portugal and Henk van Elburg, from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO). Further contributions were made by representatives from BayWa r.e. AG, Madoqua Renewables, ACCIONA energía, IberBlue Wind, ING Bank, Miranda Law Firm, REN, RWE, ISQ, Renewable Risk Advisers and WAM Horizon.
The event concluded with a special anniversary ceremony as WavEC Offshore Renewables celebrated its 20th anniversary, with a tribute to its founder Professor Antonio Sarmento.
Setting out his closing remarks WavEC CEO Marco Alves said: “This year’s conference was filled with engaging and insightful discussion, and I want to express my sincere gratitude to our sponsors, esteemed speakers and all participants who were essential to the success of this event. There are a number of key themes which have been repeated throughout the event. It is clear that stability is critical for investors to engage and industry to evolve. And in order to trigger the path to reach Portugal’s 10GW target we require a clear and transparent framework for project approval, with areas like licensing and grid connection. Within this process ports and supply chains are essential.”
WavEC Offshore Renewables has built a reputation as a European Centre of Excellence focusing on the development of marine renewable energy through R&D, knowledge transfer and innovation. During that time, it has delivered more than 70 R&D projects in collaboration with more than 350 partners, in 30 plus countries.
Portugal’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Action is set to engage in a dialogue phase to discuss pre-qualification options and bidding models with companies which have expressed declarations of interest in developing offshore wind projects in the region. In this first auction round, the government intends to proceed with the developments in Viana do Castelo, Leixões, and Figueira da Foz, reaching up to 3.5 GW of total capacity.