PLEMCAT will be a floating test laboratory in the Mediterranean Sea that will serve to study the behavior of different components and technical systems for the advancement and validation of floating wind energy, other marine energies, monitoring of the marine ecosystem and other environmental, climatic or biodiversity studies. The project is channeled through the Institute for Energy Research of Catalonia (IREC), which is counting on the technical support of the Catalan Energy Institute (ICAEN).
The PLEMCAT platform will have different areas to carry out different types of activities, covering R&D&I activities from the laboratory to the market. This platform will be used to develop projects for offshore wind and other marine energies. A first area will be dedicated to the evaluation of materials, components and systems to analyse behavior in real marine conditions, and will also allow other R&D&I activities to be carried out. A second area will be designed for testing prototypes of marine power generation technology. Finally, to promote industrial innovation, there will be an area for the validation of pre-commercial wind and other marine energy generation technologies.
With this equipment, the aim is to facilitate and promote research in all phases of the development of a floating offshore wind energy system and other renewable energy technologies in the marine environment, as well as the training of researchers and professionals linked to these fields. This includes the development of advanced simulation models, advanced monitoring, control, operation and maintenance through remotely operated vehicles, and the design of new fastening systems and floats. At the same time, the platform will be able to carry out environmental studies related to the interaction of this type of infrastructure with the marine environment and also to become an observatory of climate change and the evolution of biodiversity in the Mediterranean Sea.
The proposal locates PLEMCAT in the Gulf of Roses, at a distance of between 16 and 24 kilometers from the coast, and that the activity will begin before the end of 2025. The project will be developed in two phases. The first phase will focus on all the activity related to prototype testing, components and other R&D&I activities, while the second phase will include the area for pre-commercial systems.
IREC has started the project by initiating the call for expressions of interest from organizations who wish to utilize the resources and services offered by the Platform for R&D&I in Marine Energies of Catalonia (PLEMCAT). Institutions and companies interested in using the capabilities of the platform can go to this website where they will find all the information about the project and may submit their proposals. In addition to having the impulse and support of the Department of Climate Action, Food and Rural Agenda, the project will be eligible for the call RENMARINAS DEMOS of the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge (MITECO).
The Government is actively working to accelerate the implementation of renewable energies and, at the same time, to ensure that this implementation is done in a balanced way in the territory, with the maximum respect for biodiversity and with the maximum return for the environment where they are installed. An example of this commitment is the creation, last January, of a working group of the Department of Climate Action and the Empordà municipalities involved in the Plan de Ordenación del Espai Marítim (POEM). The aim is for the energy transition to be fair, balanced and in agreement with the territory.
More energy R&D&I in Catalonia to contribute to the energy transition
Research, development and innovation are one of the priority lines of work for Catalonia’s transition to a cleaner, more sustainable and democratic energy model. In fact, the Energy Outlook for Catalonia 2050 (PROENCAT 2050) identifies R&D&I as one of the strategic axes for the Catalan energy system to contribute to achieving the goal of climate neutrality by 2050.
Beyond PLEMCAT, the Department of Climate Action, Food and Rural Agenda – through ICAEN – is also funding and supporting IREC in the development of the PRIMA Platform, a center for testing and demonstration in real environments of energy technologies and new solutions and products in the phase prior to their introduction on the market, which is currently under construction. Based in Gurb (Osona), PRIMA will be a platform for the integration of renewable energies and storage made up of different industrial-scale pilot plants, where projects can be tested and validated in a shared way among different agents in the sector. The technological areas of the pilot plants will be hydrogen systems; electrification and flexibility; renewable energies and storage; thermal energy; energy efficiency.
Image by Nicholas Doherty from Unsplash