Principle Power Raising $20M to Build World’s First Floating Wind Farm

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Vancouver, BC-based Finavera Renewables. In October 2007, she co-founded Principle Power with Jon Bonanno, the company’s president.

To get the right technology, they started talking with Berkeley, CA-based Marine Innovation & Technology, which originally designed the WindFloat for offshore oil and gas rigs, and signed an exclusive licensing agreement last June. “We licensed WindFloat, and are now converting it into ownership,” Weinstein says.

But commercial floating wind farms are still several years away. Weinstein says WindFloat passed its technical tests, done in experimental water tanks, in October. Now it’s a matter of dealing with federal and state regulations, and obtaining permits to build and operate offshore wind turbines. Weinstein says the “talks with Portugal may advance faster” than Oregon, and that the technology could be deployed abroad in two to three years.

And why not Washington state? Weinstein points out that two-thirds of Washington’s coastline is designated as a marine sanctuary—which rules out building wind farms and laying underwater power-transmission cables. “That’s why we went to Oregon,” Weinstein says. “But we can bring the power back to Washington. I would like to see both governors come together and say, ‘We have the ocean, it can provide all the power you need. Why don’t we use that?'”

As for the Northwest’s attitudes about renewable energy, Weinstein says, “With my first company, doing wave energy, it was, ‘Who are you, what are you doing?’ But wind energy is closer to commercialization than wave energy. There is lots of interest and receptiveness…We’re going to be floating in the Pacific Northwest. With the [federal government’s] stimulus package, I’m hoping we’ll see development a lot quicker.”

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Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and Editor of Xconomy Boston. E-mail him at gthuang [at] xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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