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    Consortium brings together Spanish and Irish to dispute offshore wind farms in Portugal


    September 19, 2022 - CE Noticias Financieras

     

      It is called Iberblue Wind and aims to join the resources of an Irish company and two Spanish to bet on wind energy at sea. The new company, which is being presented this Monday, already has its sights set on the offshore wind auction that the Portuguese government is preparing. "We want to bring our experience in other countries, such as the United Kingdom and Ireland, to Portugal," Adrián de Andrés, vice-president of Iberblue Wind, tells Expresso .

      After studying wave energy and working in this area, Adrián de Andrés has dedicated himself to the promising offshore wind market. He did so for Xodus Group in Edinburgh between June 2019 and January 2022. And since then he has continued to work in offshore wind for Simply Blue, where he has been director of market development since the beginning of the year.

      Simply Blue is one of the vertices of the triangle that now goes by the name Iberblue Wind, and which is also composed of the Spanish companies Proes Consultores and FF New Energy Ventures.

      Iberblue Wind's stated goal is to "bid for the development of projects in Portugal", and Adrián de Andrés tells Expresso that he has already expressed to the Portuguese government his intention to bid for the offshore wind auction that Portugal plans to hold. The design of this auction is still being worked out. The bar has been set at 10 gigawatts (GW) of capacity.

      It is known, for now, that the government's intention is to put at least three areas off the Portuguese coast up for bidding, and that the consortiums that will bid for the auction will have to present compensations for the country, such as the development of industrial capacity on land to build the equipment, or part of it, that will be installed at sea.

      "We want to develop at least two projects in Portugal, in the North and Center," advanced Adrián de Andrés, noting that, due to the concern with economies of scale, Iberblue Wind will be designing wind farms of at least 500 megawatts (MW) of capacity.

      Admitting that Iberblue Wind intends to "maximize domestic incorporation," the manager notes that in order to be successful in the Portuguese offshore wind auction, the joint venture first needs to engage with port administrations, since in order to be able to build wind farms in Portuguese waters the consortium needs to get relatively large areas for shipyards in the ports, and with some depth.

      Adrián de Andrés notes that the new generation of floating wind farms that Iberblue Wind wants to build in Portugal will have triangular platforms with 80 meters on each side, which will require space to assemble these enormous structures on land.

      Portugal has already had experience in this field, with the construction of platforms for the Windfloat wind farm, which is in operation off Viana do Castelo, with three towers with floating triangular bases that support 8.4 MW wind generators. Each of these bases is 50 meters long between each of the three floating columns.

      The Windfloat structures were developed by the North American company Principle Power (whose shareholders include EDP and Norway's Aker Offshore Wind), which intends to market its technology to several promoters of floating wind farms, although it is not alone in this race, as there are other floating solutions for wind towers under development by other companies.

      Adrián de Andrés assures Expresso that Iberblue Wind has not yet selected a technology for the projects it may develop in Portugal. What is certain is that it will always have to be a floating solution, given the high depth of water off the Portuguese coast. Unlike vast areas of Northern Europe, which host offshore wind farms in shallow waters, the Portuguese seabed has a steep slope, which makes the use of offshore wind towers with fixed columns technically unfeasible.

      The vice-president of Iberblue Wind believes that the consortium's portfolio of projects under development, which amounts to 10 GW, spread throughout Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States and Sweden, is an important calling card.

      At what cost?

      Consortia such as Iberblue Wind will face several challenges in transforming what for now is at the level of intentions into reality. One of these challenges is licensing. Adrián de Andrés admits that wind farms at sea can take "eight to ten years to develop. Another critical point is price.

      It is not yet known what the rules will be for the Portuguese government's offshore wind auction, but the solar auctions have had bidders competing on price and they have achieved in several lots historically low prices for the energy that will be generated in these new plants.

      Adrián de Andrés points to 80 euros per megawatt hour (MWh) as a reference in terms of the levelized cost of offshore wind energy, that is, the price at which these farms will theoretically need to sell their electricity to recover the investment within the lifetime of the infrastructure, guaranteeing a return for those who invest. But the actual cost will depend on several factors, such as the size of the park, its location (which may be in an area that captures more or less wind), the construction costs and economies of scale.

      The head of Iberblue Wind told Expresso that the consortium is developing "an Iberian approach". Besides Madrid, the company will have an office in Portugal, which "will probably be in Porto". At the Iberian level the consortium's ambition is to compete for business opportunities around 2 GW. In Spain Iberblue Wind is looking in particular at Galicia and Andalusia.

      Simply Blue, a key piece in Iberblue Wind's gearing, has as a shareholder the fund manager Octopus Renewables, a British clean energy investment vehicle launched in 2010 and currently managing renewable assets of more than 3 GW in seven countries.

      In addition to Iberblue Wind, the Portuguese wind auction, to be held in 2023, has already attracted interest from EDP and Engie, as well as Spain's Iberdrola and Denmark's Orsted, among other renewable energy companies.

      The auction was announced in May of this year by the Secretary of State for Energy, João Galamba, with an indicative capacity of 6 to 8 GW, but shortly afterwards the Minister of the Environment, Duarte Cordeiro, raised the ambition to 10 GW.

      Remember that Portugal currently has installed wind capacity of 5.6 GW, almost all of it on land (the exception being the 24 MW of the Windfloat offshore park).

      The government's first two solar auctions, held in 2019 and 2020, made available new capacity of around 2 GW, so if it comes to fruition, the offshore wind auction will be the largest energy sector bid ever held in Portugal.

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