A €31 million project has been approved for an ambitious four-year floating offshore wind project.

Subject to consenting, it is planned  that a full-scale floating wind turbine be deployed for testing off the west coast of Ireland at a Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) test site near Belmullet, Co. Mayo, by 2022. The project is led by the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) working in partnership with SEAI, SAIPEM and other organisations in France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, and the UK.


Funding for the project has been secured from Interreg North West Europe to accelerate the uptake of floating offshore wind. The project will demonstrate the survivability and cost-competitiveness of a floating offshore wind technology. It will also support the development of an active supply chain in the region which has some of the strongest wind and ocean resources in the world. The project is known as AFLOWT (Accelerating market uptake of Floating Offshore Wind Technology) and is the first project of its kind at such scale to draw on expertise from right across Europe.

Decarbonising our electricity supply will be crucial to becoming a leader in climate change. We are fortunate in Ireland to have such a fantastic wind energy resource. Almost one third of Ireland’s electricity currently comes from renewables, with wind being the highest contributor. However, we need to step up our ambition in this area and stretch ourselves farther. I welcome this project as an excellent opportunity to further explore the potential of offshore wind.
Richard Bruton T.D. , Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment

Commenting on the reasoning for choosing offshore wind, Oliver Wragg, Commercial Director at EMEC said:


                “Over the past 15 years EMEC has hosted more ocean energy technologies at its real sea test berths in the UK than any other facility in the world. We have developed a wealth of knowledge and expertise that can now be transferred to the testing and demonstration of floating offshore wind to help it make the most cost effective and rapid transition to commercialisation.” 


EMEC is thrilled that this project will enable continuation of the important work that EMEC has been conducting with SEAI on development of offshore test sites in Ireland over the past four years. If floating offshore wind technology can operate reliably and efficiently on the west coast of Ireland, it will work anywhere. Through this project we hope that the successful technology demonstrations will fundamentally expand the global offshore wind market.”


SEAI is delighted to be part of the consortium and welcomes this initial step of gaining support from Interreg. We recognise that there are many significant steps to be taken to deliver this ambitious project and we will work with all project partners and local and national stakeholders to maximise local and national benefits. This project will show Ireland’s strengths, not only in terms of its significant wind .resources, but also as a responsive, innovative and agile country.


Stefano Porcari, Chief Operating Officer of Saipem's E&C Offshore Division and CEO of SAIPEM SA said:


“SAIPEM continues its commitment to diversify its core business to offering modern solutions to the renewable energy market. This project represents for us a unique opportunity to prove our Floating Wind technology in severe environments. This full-scale floating turbine complements SAIPEM sets of integrated services part of the fixed offshore wind capabilities consolidating the pioneering spirit of our company which pushes the boundaries of the Energy Industry a bit further. Together with our consortium partners, we will work on the feasibility and the cost effectiveness of this floating offshore wind project for a low carbon emission energy environment.”


SAIPEM SA will be supported by project partners with research and development insights coming from Cable Life Cycle Assurance (CaLiCyA) in France, Maritime Research Institute Netherlands (MARIN), Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy Systems (IWES) in Germany, University College Cork and Electricity Supply Board Engineering & Major Projects (ESB E&MP) in Ireland.


EMEC will manage the project from the UK, with the initial kick off meeting of partners taking place in Dublin on March 12th. Once planning, permitting and supply chain requirements are in place, the floating turbine will be tested for a year at SEAI’s Atlantic Marine Energy Test Site (AMETS) off the west coast of Ireland. Deployment is currently planned for 2022. By testing at AMETS, the technology developed in AFLOWT will be proven in the harshest of North West Europe’s offshore environments, readying it for application at any deep-water offshore environment across the world.

Notes to editor

For further information, contact:


Lisa MacKenzie, Marketing and Communications Manager, EMEC

Tel: +44 (0)1856 852207

Email: lisa.mackenzie@emec.org.uk



Johnny Fallon, Carr Communications

Tel: +353 85 889 5103

Email: johnny@carrcommunications.ie



Media relations

Tel: +39 0244234088

E-mail: media.relations@saipem.com


About EMEC:

Established in 2003, EMEC is the world’s leading facility for testing wave and tidal energy converters in real sea conditions. The centre offers independent, accredited grid-connected test berths for full-scale prototypes, as well as test sites in less challenging conditions for use by smaller scale technologies, supply chain companies, and equipment manufacturers. 


To date, more marine energy converters have been deployed in Orkney, Scotland, than at any other single site in the world with 20 wave and tidal energy clients spanning 11 countries having tested 32 marine energy devices.


For the AFLOWT project, EMEC will provide project management, overseeing the development of the project, the offshore construction and onshore grid connection. EMEC will assist the development of the deployment site, including the development of H&S systems and operating procedures.






Saipem is a leading company in engineering, drilling and construction of major projects in the energy and infrastructure sectors. It is “One-Company” organized in five business divisions (Offshore E&C, Onshore E&C, Offshore Drilling, Onshore Drilling and XSight, dedicated to conceptual design). Saipem is a global solution provider with distinctive skills and competences and high-tech assets, which it uses to identify solutions aimed at satisfying customer requirements. Listed on the Milan Stock Exchange, it is present in over 60 countries worldwide and has 32 thousand employees of 120 different nationalities.


Saipem is leading the development of the offshore wind device to be tested as part of the AFLOWT project.




About MARIN:

For over 80 years, MARIN has been contributing to the development of safe and economic ships and offshore structures as independent advisor in hydrodynamic and nautical research. MARIN accumulate know-how, expertise and experience to provide innovative tools and solutions for the maritime, offshore and nautical industry. At the same time MARIN consider it their responsibility to contribute to the development of offshore renewable energy from waves, tide and wind.


For the AFLOWT project MARIN will be involved in the design of the mooring system and the monitoring of the prototype by means of full-scale measurements.


About UCC:

The MaREI Centre in University College Cork (Ireland) is a marine and renewable energy research, development and innovation Centre supported by Science Foundation Ireland. MaREI offers unique world class testing infrastructure, state-of-the-art structural laboratories, novel prototypes and measurement equipment that allow the systematic identification and reduction of development risks through a structured TRL development cycle.


For the AFLOWT project, UCC – MaREI will lead the technology maturity and investability working group in addition to undertaking validation tank testing of prototype platform behaviour. 


About ESB Engineering & Major Projects:

ESB, established in 1927 as a statutory corporation in the Republic of Ireland, operates across the electricity market from generation, through transmission and distribution to supply. ESB Engineering & Major Projects (E&MP) is a new directorate within ESB, and has capabilities including the research and development of new energy technologies and services, provision of specialist engineering expertise and project management capabilities.


For the AFLOWT project, ESB E&MP will provide expert services and advice in relation to planning and consenting for the project and delivery of the environmental assessments required to meet the project output of installation of an offshore wind turbine.


About Fraunhofer IWES:

Fraunhofer IWES in Germany ensures investments in technological developments in the field of wind energy through its validation services. By operating large test rigs, it accelerates the market introduction of innovative products, enhances certification processes and increases planning security by using state-of-the-art measurement techniques.


Within the AFLOWT project, Fraunhofer IWES will investigate the long-term impact of the deployment of floating offshore wind for the North-West Europe renewable energy targets, which finally, together with the results from the testing campaign, will feed into a Floating Offshore Wind Development Plan. Furthermore, Fraunhofer IWES will lead on the development of an advanced turbine control system.




About CaLiCyA:

CaLiCyA (Cable Life Cycle Assurance) is specialised in the engineering and monitoring of power cable over each cycle of its life from design, route engineering and risk assessment to monitoring during manufacturing, laying and operation. CaLiCyA is a service company born from the collaboration of two expert companies:


FEBUS OPTICS is an innovative French company specialised in distributed optical fibre sensing systems for the monitoring and integrity management of infrastructures.


KRAKEN SUBSEA SOLUTIONS (KSS)- a French engineering company with expertise on the execution of complex offshore projects, design studies and innovative submarine installation works.


For the AFLOWT project, CaLiCyA will provide dedicated monitoring for the subsea power cable and sub-structure, and the analysis of this data. The company will also provide centralisation of all data generated by the different monitoring systems and their collection on shore.


About Interreg:

Interreg is one of the key instruments of the European Union (EU) supporting cooperation across borders through project funding. Its aim is to jointly tackle common challenges and find shared solutions in fields such as health, environment, research, education, transport, sustainable energy and more.


Interreg North-West Europe (NWE) is a European Territorial Cooperation Programme funded by the European Commission with the ambition to make the North-West Europe area a key economic player and an attractive place to work and live, with high levels of innovation, sustainability and cohesion. It invests EUR 370 million of European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) in activities based on the cooperation