Irish renewable energy developer Gaelectric has signed a memorandum of understanding with Ideol SAS, a French floating wind company, to develop floating offshore wind projects in Irish waters.
Gaelectric and Ideol are investigating several sites in Irish waters for both short term pre-commercial and long term commercial-scale projects, Gaelectric said in a statement.
The initial objective is to develop a 30MW-plus turbine array project, followed by a bigger commercial-scale extension off the Irish coast. Floating turbines are an early stage technology, but it's thought that they could open up new coastal regions with deep water to the wind industry.
Conventional offshore wind turbines are fixed to the seabed, and therefore only feasible in relatively shallow water.
Floating turbines could ultimately be deployed in coastal waters off Japan, the west coast of the US, the Mediterranean and Ireland, the companies said.
Ideol has built several demonstration and pilot floating offshore wind projects in France and Japan.
It is currently working on the Floatgen project off the Atlantic coast of France near Saint-Nazaire.
The company's floating wind structure is suited for extra-large turbines. It can be moored to the seabed in both shallow and deep waters.
"The potential for offshore generation is enormous and holds the prospect of significant benefits for Ireland," said Brendan McGrath, inset, founding shareholder at Gaelectric.
"The Irish Government's Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan has identified a potential for the generation of 27 gigawatts from floating offshore wind in Irish coastal waters."