An €8bn project backed by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) off the coast of Figueira da Foz, a coastal city between Lisbon and Porto, has established the city as a frontrunner in Portugal’s nascent offshore wind industry

In February, renewables specialist CIP announced plans to develop the country’s first commercial offshore wind farm off its central coast. The two-gigawatt (GW) floating Nortada project is being implemented by CIP’s development partner, Copenhagen Offshore Partners (COP), which opened its first Portuguese office in Porto that same month.


COP’s Portuguese market director, Afonso César Machado, said the firm is devising “big plans” for the country’s nascent offshore wind industry. “We are not [limiting] ourselves to Figueira da Foz. We strongly believe in the huge potential that exists for offshore wind in this country,” he said.

The Nortada project, which takes its name from Portugal’s sea breeze, will proceed only if it is allocated a permit in the country’s first offshore wind tenders which are planned for this autumn. Portugal’s government wants 10GW of offshore wind capacity installed by 2030, and has included Figueira da Foz as one of the five areas to be auctioned. 

Keen to get ahead of the pack, COP has been forging local partnerships for more than a year. On February 8, it signed co-operation agreements with the municipality of Figueira da Foz, the regional fishermen’s association Figpesca, and INESC TEC, which consists of 13 engineering and technology R&D centres across the country’s north.

Figueira da Foz’s mayor, Pedro Santana Lopes, told fDi the municipality will “do everything we can” to support the project and that it “looks to [Nortada] with the greatest expectations”. However, he noted the new industry’s potential impact on the fishing community which is “an important part of our economy, way of life, history and traditions”.

Attuned to the hurdles of entering a new market, COP addressed this head on by involving Figpesca in the project’s development. “You can do these things early or you can do them a bit too late. In this case, we have been extremely mindful to do it as early as we can,” said Mr Machado. Both parties are open to collaborating in a way that goes “beyond a simple coexistence between offshore wind and fishing”, he said, without elaborating further. 

Starting in the north


While doing groundwork in Figueira da Foz, COP is setting up the office in Porto to make it a launchpad for its Portuguese ambitions. Of the five offshore wind locations to be auctioned by Portugal’s government, two of them – Viana do Castelo and Leixões – are in the far north.

The country’s only operational offshore wind farm is a 25-megawatt (MW) research project called WindFloat Atlantic which sits off the coast of Viana do Castelo. Mr Machado said this has given visibility to the north’s local supply chain and industries connected to offshore wind such as turbine manufacturing and electrical components.

COP intends to involve the largest possible number of local workers and academic partners in Nortada, and Mr Machado said the “excellent talent pool” provided by the region’s universities was another reason for choosing Porto. COP’s partnership with INESC TEC is intended to generate new knowledge within local universities which will help expand the country’s offshore wind sector. 

Hot on the heels of Nortada’s announcement, Spanish-Irish joint venture IberBlue Wind laid out plans to develop a 990MW offshore wind project in the same area. Figueira da Foz’s merits as a wind hub have been boosted by the University of Coimbra’s opening in December of a local campus dedicated to marine and environmental sciences. The government is also funding the dredging of the city’s port to accommodate larger ships.