Effectively executed! Bulgaria’s first offshore wind turbine might be used for gasoline manufacturing

French startup Eolink, in collaboration with 15 European energy partners, will install a 5 MW floating offshore wind turbine in Bulgaria by 2025. This is part of the EU-backed Black Sea Floating Offshore Wind (BLOW) project, which aims to advance sustainable energy solutions.

BLOW will use Eolink’s patented floating offshore wind turbine design, which the company says solves existing industry problems by using four steel pylons instead of one to distribute turbine loads. This should make the overall structure more than 30% lighter. According to the startup, its turbines can generate 10% more energy by reducing aerodynamic interactions thanks to a larger distance between blades and towers.

The unit will be designed to operate at maximum efficiency in the Black Sea, and this will include being fitted with a larger rotor so that it can generate more power in less windy areas.

Eolink’s wind turbine. Photo credit: Eolink

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“The World Bank 2021 report shows that there is huge engineering potential in Southeastern Europe, with a staggering 166 GW of floating offshore energy in the Black Sea alone, which is five times the electricity consumption of Bulgaria and Romania,” Eolink’s CCO Alain Morry said in the press release. “Through this project, we hope to boost offshore development across the region, which already has ongoing fixed-ground offshore wind projects in Romania.”

But while any sustainable energy development sounds like a positive step for the EU, there’s a catch: the wind turbine will be used to power an existing gas platform operated by Petroceltic, a Bulgarian oil and gas company. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon practice. Think Hywind Tampen in Norway, the world’s largest floating offshore wind farm, which also powers the country’s gas and oil production.

On the one hand, powering fossil fuels with renewable energy is the lesser evil compared to traditional drilling or burning methods. And the development of a new industrial case for offshore wind power over other traditional industries is a positive development. One could also argue that the experience gained from the manufacture, installation and operation of the wind turbine can also benefit larger wind farms in the future.

But on the other hand, it seems like a step backwards for the EU, which is funding a green energy project to harvest the gas and oil that are threatening the planet. And while this may only represent a transitional phase before we fully rely on renewable energy sources, the bloc should step up its game if it is to meet its 2050 climate goals for carbon neutrality.

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