Engineers at Norwegian and Dutch startup SolarDuck are developing huge solar panels that can glide over waves “like a carpet” in the North Sea. The panels are part of a pilot project to use the planet’s hundreds of millions of square kilometers of ocean space for power generation.
First floating solar park
The first floating solar park, named Merganser, will be installed in the waters of Belgium, and will have a maximum capacity of 500 kW. The project is being funded by German energy giant RWE, which hopes to commercialize the technology from next year if the plan is successful.
The pilot project is scheduled to be installed, specifically, in the waters of Ostend, Belgium. According to RWE, it would give SolarDuck and itself “significant first-hand experience in one of the world’s most challenging marine environments.”
SolarDuck’s innovation opens up new possibilities for solar energy, even in the abrasive conditions of the North Sea. RWE, according to its press release, has accordingly chosen SolarDuck in its submission for the Dutch HKW VII (systems integration) contract. RWE, one of Germany’s largest utilities, has signed an agreement to explore and develop offshore floating solar parks globally, starting with a 0.5 MW installation.
The project will include battery storage and will serve as a test of the new technology before it is expanded and applied elsewhere.
“Showcasing SolarDuck’s robust technology in the harsh conditions of the North Sea will allow us to deploy the technology virtually anywhere in the world . We are very pleased to have found a strong partner in RWE who shares our vision of electrifying the world with offshore floating photovoltaics. I hope that our organizations will work together to achieve just that,” they say in the press release.
triangular shaped solar panels
RWE is not the first energy company to investigate combining wind and solar power. The Hollandse Kust (noord) wind farm, to be built in the North Sea, is also considering using a demonstration of floating solar technology. Eneco and Shell formed CrossWind to develop Hollandse Kust (noord).
Floating solar power has been successfully deployed inland and near shore, but panels deployed offshore must be able to withstand harsher conditions. This includes high winds, strong waves, and seawater corrosion. SolarDuck has developed a platform of triangular shaped solar panels, designed to float several meters above the most turbulent waters. This allows you to keep your electrical components dry, clean and stable and the semi-submersible structure safe .
The design received the world’s first certification for floating offshore solar power from the French certification body Bureau Veritas.
“The need for secure, sustainable and affordable energy demands new and immediate responses from industry in Europe and also globally. SolarDuck is part of this answer, bringing solar energy to its next frontier, the oceans. Showcasing SolarDuck’s robust technology in the harsh conditions of the North Sea will allow us to deploy the technology virtually anywhere in the world. We are very pleased to have found in RWE a strong partner who shares our vision of electrifying the world with floating offshore solar power. I look forward to our organizations working together to accomplish just that,” says SolarDuck CEO Koen Burgers.
The two companies also hope to deploy the floating solar panels between wind turbines in the offshore wind farm to be developed, Hollandse Kust West.
Referencia: RWE Press Release