heads and tails Floating solar parks have important advantages, such as saving space on land, how relatively simple their installation is or the benefits that water cooling has on their performance; but they also force engineers to face openwork challenges. Especially when you want to go beyond the calm water reservoirs and take them to the high seas.
How to prepare the equipment to withstand the harsh conditions of the sea, including waves, gusts of wind and of course the effect of corrosion? And to keep the electrical components dry, clean and stable? How to guarantee the good condition of the semi-submersible structure and at the same time allow safe operations with minimal maintenance?
The Dutch-Norwegian firm SolarDuck has developed a technology with which it wants to make it easier for solar energy to reach “a new frontier”high seas, and even reach offshore wind farms, where they could be combined to seek synergies and a more efficient use of space.
If the panels were placed between the turbines, for example, both facilities would share efforts during the construction phase or when maintaining their equipment.
Objective: “A New Frontier”
To overcome the harsh conditions that will be encountered offshore, SolarDuck has developed a triangular platform that is already certified by Bureau Veritas for handling in floating installations, far from shore. “It is designed to float several meters above the water, following the waves like a carpet,” they point out from the environment of the Dutch-Norwegian company.
Now the company has achieved a new milestone: it has reached an agreement with the German company RWE, one of the largest in the country’s energy sector, precisely to promote floating solar parks at sea. In order to test SolarDuck’s technology, its German partner will invest in a pilot project in a challenging area: the North Sea.
“Showing our technology in the harsh conditions of the North Sea will allow us to implement the technology practically anywhere in the world,” explains the CEO of the firm, Koen Burgers, who sets himself the goal of “bringing solar energy to its next frontier , the oceans”.
The marine pilot promoted by both firms, named Merganser, will reach a nominal capacity of 0.5 MWp in 2023 and will be located off the coast of Ostend, in the Belgian North Sea.
Floating #solar parks at sea – sounds promising? We thought so too! So we’re joining forces with SolarDuck to further explore the technology, investing in their pilot project ‘Merganser’ off the Belgian coast. Stay tuned! https://t.co/bnBAmzFOjC pic.twitter.com/sH0u49Y6XN
— RWE Media Relations Team (@RWE_Presse) July 19, 2022
“For countries with lower average wind speeds but high solar irradiation, this open attractive opportunities. With the pilot project we are gaining experience with a highly innovative offshore floating solar technology. We want to help speed up the energy transition, have a positive impact on marine ecology and help integrate energy systems,” says Sven Utermöhlen, CEO of RWE Renewables.
At the facility, both RWE and SolarDuck hope to gain experience in “one of the world’s most challenging marine environments” in order to accelerate commercialization from 2023.
The alliance will not be limited to Merganser demonstrations however. In fact, the pilot project may not even be your most ambitious goal. The German company already has its sights set on the Dutch Hollandse Kust West (HKW) marine park: it aspires to the HKW VII contract, for system integration, and has decided to compete hand in hand with SolarDuck and its technology.
The Hollandse Kust park will also be located in the waters of the North Sea and plans to combine wind and solar energy with a demonstration of floating solar technology.
Cover image | Sun Duck
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