Solar panels will glide over waves ‘like a carpet’ in the North Sea

By: Michael Korgs | 22.07.2022, 17:06
Solar panels will glide over waves ‘like a carpet’ in the North Sea

RWE, a German energy firm, will invest in a pilot project centered on the use of floating solar technology in the North Sea as part of a larger collaboration focused on the creation of "floating solar parks." Merganser will have a capacity of 0.5 MWp and will be installed off Ostend, Belgium. SolarDuck's first offshore test, according to RWE, will be Merganser.

In response, RWE said that Merganser would give both SolarDuck and itself "important first-hand experience in one of the most difficult offshore environments on earth." It added that learnings obtained from the project would help to speed up the technology's commercialization by 2023. A design based on a concept for solar panels to "float" meters above water and ride waves "like a carpet" is how SolarDuck's system was characterized by RWE.

SolarDuck's technology will be used in a larger demonstration project at the yet-to-be-developed Hollandse Kust West offshore wind farm, which RWE is currently tendering for. According to RWE, “the integration of offshore floating solar into an offshore wind farm” is “a more efficient use of ocean space for energy generation.”

RWE isn't the first energy firm to investigate combining wind and solar. The Hollandse Kust (noord) wind farm, which will be built in the North Sea, is also considering using a floating solar technology demonstration. Eneco and Shell formed CrossWind to develop the Hollandse Kust (noord).

A 5 MW floating solar park in Alqueva was recently completed by Portuguese energy firm EDP. It called the facility, which contains nearly 12,000 photovoltaic panels, "the largest in Europe in a reservoir." EDP said that the project would allow the integration of solar power and hydroelectricity from the dam at Alqueva. A battery storage system is also being considered for installation.

Hybridization is the process of integrating multiple renewable energy technologies and systems on one site. In remarks published last week, EDP CEO Miguel Stilwell d'Andrade stated that “combining electricity generated from water, sunshine, wind, and storage makes sense as a logical route to growth." Hybridization would continue to be an investment priority for EDP because it optimized resources and allowed the firm to generate energy at a lower cost.