This week, German energy company RWE signed a deal with SolarDuck, a Dutch firm, to deploy offshore solar farms in the North Sea, off the coast of Belgium. SolarDuck’s floating solar installation is the first design in the world to receive certification by Bureau Veritas.
The key benefit of creating offshore photovoltaic installations is that they can be deployed along offshore wind farms. This would create a multiplication effect because of the complementary nature of both technologies. Also, it would be a more efficient use of space, as the floating solar installations are supposed to be deployed between the wind turbines.
Gracing the waves like a solar carpet
One of the big challenges to building a floating solar farm is the fact that it needs to withstand heavy weather conditions, be water resistant, require little maintenance and be very durable in a corrosive environment. At the same time, it needs to sit relatively close to the surface of the water, as opposed to a wind turbine.
According to an official statement by RWE, SolarDuck’s floating solar farm features a triangular design, that is supposed to float several metres above the water, dangling with the waves ‘like a carpet’. This would help the installation keep its critical electrical components dry, clean and stable, while also allowing for a safe and stable submerged structure.
The installation off the coast of Belgium’s Ostend will be called Merganser and should be capable of producing 0.5-megawatt hours at peak production. The project is set to complete in 2023, which will only allow for faster commercial adoption of the innovative design.
SolarDuck CEO, Koen Burger, was quoted in a press statement explaining that the demand for sustainable and affordable energy in Europe is growing and the situation needs immediate solutions. At the same time, he pointed out that bringing solar energy into the ocean was the next frontier in the renewables sector.