By William Mathis
The potential investment will come at a critical moment for floating wind technology as developers look to scale up from single-turbine pilot projects into major wind farms that would work economically. Those are likely to cost billions of dollars and would provide low-carbon electricity to millions of people.
Principle Power, which is based in Emeryville, California, hopes that its investors will have first-mover advantage in a segment of the wind business that may expand rapidly. Traditional offshore wind farms rely on concrete and steel foundations to anchor turbines to the seabed, limiting the depths where projects can work. Floating projects can work in more places.
The company has received bids from investment firms, industrial companies and energy companies, Chief Executive Officer Joao Metelo said in an interview. Executives will finish the process in the next few months and have hired renewable energy specialists Green Giraffe as its adviser. Its major shareholders include the venture capital units of the Portuguese developer EDP Renovaveis SA and Spanish oil company Repsol SA.
“This is a funding round that is really moving us into the commercial stage,” Metelo said. “It’s intended to bring in another major partner to the investor base.”
Offshore wind farms are one of the most efficient ways to generate renewable energy due to the strength of winds at sea and the ability of developers to build at scale. Floating wind, which can be deployed in deeper water than traditional offshore wind farms, could open up massive new markets such as South Korea, Japan and the West Coast of the U.S.
Principle Power is one of two developers, along with Norway’s Equinor ASA, that have built a floating offshore wind project with multiple turbines. It recently began generating power from its 25-megawatt WindFloat Atlantic project off the coast of Portugal and is developing similarly-sized projects in Scotland and France.