Dublin energy start-up targets $2 trillion offshore wind sector

Gazelle Wind Power raises $4m to develop its hybrid floating offshore wind platform

Gazelle has developed a durable, disruptive hybrid floating platform. Illustration: Gazelle Wind Power

Gazelle has developed a durable, disruptive hybrid floating platform. Illustration: Gazelle Wind Power

 

Dublin-headquartered Gazelle Wind Power has raised $4 million (€3.4m) to accelerate the development of a ground-breaking hybrid floating offshore wind platform.

Speaking to The Irish Times, company founder and president Jon Salazar said he believes Gazelle’s platform can help unlock the deepwater offshore wind market and assist with moves to achieve the climate goals outlined in the Paris accords.

Gazelle has developed a durable, disruptive hybrid floating platform with a high stability attenuated pitch that overcomes current barriers of buoyancy, and geographic limitations, while also reducing costs and preserving fragile marine environments.

The company is at a pre-commercial stage, but has a pipeline of projects and is in talks with developers both in Ireland and further afield on additional ones.

Offshore wind projects have traditionally lagged behind onshore wind and other renewable energy projects in both investment and implementation. Costs of construction, installation and maintenance have tended to hinder the widespread adoption of offshore wind projects.

Gazelle’s mooring platform has been designed by leading naval engineers to enable offshore production in deeper waters without the problems usually encountered. It allows for a 70 per cent reduction in the weight of steel normally used, meaning it is easier to build as it takes up a fraction of the size, but has a tilt of less than 1 degree, meaning it is stable no matter the weather.

Overall the company estimates its solution costs half the price of other platforms to manufacture and 60 per cent less in terms of installation fees, while providing savings well above €1 million per megawatt.

Lucrative market

Mr Salazar said Gazelle was focused on a market that could be worth in excess of $2 trillion, and one in which investors, as well as players in the oil and gas sector, were clamouring to be involved.

“Gazelle is a company born in Ireland but with global ambitions, and we want it to be seen as the benchmark for floating offshore wind globally,” he said

“Ireland has huge potential in terms of offshore wind but the supply chain isn’t quite there yet so we are looking further afield in Europe, the US and southeast Asia with the intention of taking what we learn with developments elsewhere and applying them here at a future date,” he said.

Mr Salazar said the company was in discussion with local developers currently and was keeping a close eye on wind energy projects that have already been announced in the Republic.

“There is the potential for thousands of jobs to be created both in Ireland and globally from offshore wind,” he said.

The new financing includes $1.3 million in seed funding and another $2.7 million in strategic long-term financing which will be used to develop the company’s first grid-connected demonstrator. Investor participation included Spanish businessman Valentin de Torres-Solanot del Pino.

Energy landscape

“Gazelle has the potential to completely change the offshore wind industry,” said Mr de Torres-Solanot del Pino.

“By combining the best features of tension-leg and semi-submersible platforms while eliminating their drawbacks Gazelle’s technology will be at the forefront of tomorrow’s energy landscape.”

Gazelle recently named an elite group of energy industry veterans to its board of directors that includes Dr Javier Cavada, chief executive of Highview Power, Pierpaolo Mazza, a former general sales manager at GE Power, and Connie Hedegaard, former minister of environment to Denmark.

Mr Salazar said the company would be seeking further external investment at a greater scale shortly.

“We’ve spent years doing research and development and it are now at the point where we are looking at going to market. We want to have the first demonstration model on the water by 2023, and intend to be on the market by 2025.”