World First: High-Wave Floating Solar Park
A Belgian consortium has launched a project in high-wave offshore solar technology with the aim of building floating solar parks in the North Sea.
Large maritime market players Tractebel, Jan De Nul Group, DEME, Soltech and Ghent University formed a consortium and announced the launch of an innovative project in the field of marine floating solar technology.
The consortium strongly believe that solar photovoltaic (PV) panels in offshore waters are one of the essential future green energy sources. Combined in the same location with aquaculture and offshore wind power, this innovative technology allows for a more efficient use of available space.
While solar PV technology costs are still constantly decreasing, the evolution towards high-wave offshore applications is a logical next step after fresh water floating PV on lakes and dams and low-wave offshore applications in lagoons and other sheltered environments.
Factors such as land scarcity, large scale standardization and NIMBY impact are indeed expected to support the growth of the offshore solar energy market as they did for wind energy. More generally, this expansion can be seen as a step towards the further development of the Blue Economy, driving concepts such as cities on the water, offshore energy hubs, etc.
Taking solar technology to a rough offshore environment needs the existing solar PV panels to be adapted to resist salty water and withstand strong currents and wave action.
In addition, a cost competitive concept for the floater structure should be designed. Finally, ecosystem integration of the floating PV panels will be investigated from the start, to reduce the impact as much as possible.
The consortium partners bring together all required skills and expertise to make this innovative project a success.
While Tractebel has built strong engineering skills in both PV technology and offshore engineering, DEME and Jan De Nul Group are highly experienced in marine operations and involved in numerous windfarm developments and installations.
Denis Lohest, CEO of Tractebel in Belgium: “This groundbreaking initiative perfectly fits Tractebel’s ambition to become a world leader in offshore engineering for energy production, storage and transport. Following our active involvement in one of the world’s first floating wind farms, it is a great honor for us to team up with key energy players for the development of first-of-its-kind technology for high-wave offshore solar panels.”
Soltech is an expert in specialized solar PV panels and Ghent University is one of the leading knowledge centers in offshore engineering, aquaculture and ecosystem research.