The European Commission pulled the ears of Spain for the obvious delay in sending to Brussels the maritime spatial plans (POEM) that, among other issues, identify the areas suitable for the development of offshore wind power. The deadline was March 31 last year. While awaiting the final approval scheduled for this fall, developers have been submitting their offshore projects based on the Ministry for Ecological Transition's drafts for each demarcation. There are five in total, already submitted to the consultations of the rest of the administrations, environmental organizations and representatives of the affected sectors. Which are not few. In addition to energy uses, the POEMs must ensure the coexistence between activities - maritime traffic, tourism and fishing, especially - and that none of them pose a threat to environmental diversity and natural heritage. The initial diagnosis places Galicia among the areas with the best resources in Spain for the exploitation of floating wind turbines. Iberdrola aspires to build two wind farms here; the alliance of BlueFloat and Sener is promoting another one; and Cobra has just started processing a fourth installation. Together they have 3,180 megawatts (MW) of power and estimate an annual production of 11,700 gigawatts/hour, equivalent to almost 70% of the community's current electricity consumption.
The former ACS subsidiary repeats part of the argumentation that Iberdrola gives for the San Brandán and San Cibrao wind farms and BlueFloat also mentions in the Nordés. The Galwind project represents "an energy, economic and environmental opportunity to respond to climate change," says Cobra, with "a renewable energy source that is one more solution within the mix that Galicia needs." "The wealth of resources, the characteristics and the trends and challenges of the energy sector highlight a series of opportunities and challenges to promote Galicia as an emission-free region, a leader in the energy transition," adds the company in the initial project document, paraphrasing the milestones set by the Xunta in its Axenda Enerxética de Galicia 2030 and "the high potential and preferential use" contemplated by the draft of the POEM for offshore wind in the community.
The chosen site "is located outside the main protected natural areas present in the study area," according to Cobra. Straddling two of the polygons highlighted by the POEMs north of Estaca de Bares, the Galwind farm occupies an area of 164 square kilometers. It has 68 wind turbines and two elevator substations with evacuation lines to the junction of Sabón (A Coruña) and Xove (Lugo), 95 and 45 kilometers long, respectively. The same connection points that Iberdrola and BlueFloat wind farms want.
Cobra is betting on 14.7 MW turbines, "equipment with a very high generation capacity adapted to the wave, wind and current conditions characteristic of the North Atlantic coast and to the depths at which they are located", between 160 and 299 meters. For the time being, the company does not opt for a type of floating substructure to support the windmills. As a reference, it presents the platform used in the Kincardine wind farm in Scotland, installed by the company itself and with part of the structure manufactured in Navantia Fene. The group claims the "experience in the development, construction and operation of an offshore wind farm in the North Sea - "being at the time of its completion the largest floating wind farm in the world", it recalls- "from its genesis in the development phases, to the construction and operation".
The Galician shipyard is expressly referred to in the project submitted to Ecological Transition as a possible new supplier. Depending on the chosen design and the material used, structural concrete or steel floating unit, the most appropriate manufacturing process will be defined," the technicians point out. In general, steel platforms make use of shipbuilding shipyards, in this case Navantia would be an alternative due to its proximity". In the case of choosing concrete, Cobra's managers are considering the outer port of A Coruña or Gijón for the manufacturing process.
The initial project document, which serves as a reference to the department headed by Teresa Ribera to transfer to the company what should be included in the in-depth report required for the environmental impact statement, outlines some of the "compensatory" measures that Cobra is willing to study. It proposes to "promote professional training with specific courses" to have specialized technicians in operation and maintenance of the park among the population of the municipalities in the area of affection; it wants to negotiate with the Consellería do Mar the realization of "studies and periodic censuses of the state of the species of fishing interest" of the area of implantation; study "synergies" with the aquaculture sector to adapt the design of the platforms to their use as aquaculture facilities; and establish collaboration agreements with local port authorities to electrify the fleet dedicated to fishing and tourism with part of the generation of the park itself.
Xunta, Port of A Coruña and Redeia promote the first experimental floating park on the Galician coasts
The Xunta is definitely making a 180-degree turn in its vision of offshore wind power in Galicia, a technology that initially looked on the side because of the possible impact on fishing activity and now serves as a fundamental leg in its roadmap for the decarbonization of the economy and the renewable acceleration. So much so that the regional executive will become the promoter of the first offshore prototype on the coast in collaboration with the Port of A Coruña and Redeia, the former Red Eléctrica de España (REE) and responsible for the transmission of electricity in the country. President Alfonso Rueda announced yesterday after the weekly meeting of his team that the platform will be located about 10 kilometers in front of the outer port of A Coruña. The investment is around 12 million euros. It will have two or three wind turbines and a power of 30 megawatts (MW) to test technologies, as is already the case with the PLOCAN initiatives in the Canary Islands and BIMEP in the Basque Country, and at the same time carry out studies "related to the marine environment and biodiversity".
In fact, Rueda framed the project in the Offshore Wind Observatory that the Xunta promoted to open the dialogue with the fishing sector and the metal industries. The objective of the testing platform follows the same philosophy, "to establish lines of collaboration that contribute to the proper development of marine energy in Galicia with respect, balance and compatibility" with other activities and "the preservation of the ecosystem".
The Consello da Xunta gave the go-ahead yesterday to the General Action Protocol to be signed with the Port Authority of A Coruña and Redeia. There are no more details about the role that each one of the entities will play, neither the distribution of the investment, although the intention is to opt for the aids enabled by the Plan of Recovery, Transformation and Resilience of the central Executive for marine energies and the Perte of renewables. In the sector they point to the leadership of the port of A Coruña, which had the idea of testing the floating technology "for years". "Galicia has one of the main offshore wind resources not only in Spain, but also in Europe, both in terms of energy generation potential and technological and industrial development", Rueda stressed, who urged the Ecological Transition to approve as soon as possible the Maritime Space Management Plans (POEM) to define the sites for offshore implementation.