Dutch consortium plans world’s first “off-shore” floating PV plant for the North Sea

While the number of floating PV projects announced across the globe is constantly increasing, the figures for projects of this kind emerging from the Netherlands are booming significantly.

The latest floating-solar head-turner comes from a consortium formed by local research institute, Energy research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN), the Netherlands Organisation for applied scientific research (TNO), the Maritime Research Institute Netherlands (MARIN), the Abu Dhabi National Energy Company, PJSC (TAQA), and the Dutch start-up specializing in the development of floating systems for renewable energy at sea, Oceans of Energy, which claims that it will conceive and deploy what it calls the world’s first floating PV array at sea.

The consortium will work on the new prototype over the next three years, and will be financially supported by the government-run Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO). The University of Utrecht will provide monitoring services for the project, together with Oceans of Energy.

“Floating PV plants have already been developed on inland waters, but at sea this has not happened before, because it is very difficult. After all, you are dealing with enormous waves and other destructive forces of nature. With the knowledge and experience of these Dutch knowledge institutions and companies from the offshore industry, however, we are convinced of that it can be done,” said Allard van Hoeken, founder and CEO of Oceans of Energy.

The consortium believes that the solar array may even have a 15% higher yield compared to traditional PV systems.

ECN, which will select the solar modules for the projects, said that the installation will rely on standard modules used in PV projects built on land. “We will test how these panels perform in salt water and in inclement weather conditions,” said ECN’s project manager, Jan Kroon.

The consortium stressed that this technology may be particularly utilized at existing off-shore wind power parks, taking advantage of the calmer water surface between the wind turbines and the existing connection lines with power networks.

In early January, another Dutch consortium, which is also being financially backed by the RVO, announced a project aimed at developing  a flexible design of floating solar panels on inland waters.

The country’s first floating solar project was announced in September. Earlier in March, Netherland’s water management agency, Rijkswaterstaat, which is part of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, announced a plan to make water surfaces and other land under its control available for the installation of PV and other renewable energy power plants.