Construction begins on Europe’s largest floating PV plant


Dutch solar project developer Groenleven, a unit of German renewable energy company Baywa re, has started construction on a 41 MWdc floating solar plant located on a former sand extraction lake in Sellingen, in the Dutch province of Groningen.

The Sellingen solar park, which is expected to be both the largest in Europe and the biggest outside China, is relying on 72,000 solar modules provided by an unnamed manufacturer which are mounted with a west-east orientation. “I believe the east-west approach makes the most sense from a yield and stability point of view and we have used this system from day one,” Willem Biesheuvel, project manager for floating PV at Groenleven, told pv magazine. “For maintenance, cable management, stability, anchoring and ecological perspective, we think this is the best approach and we do not use different orientations for other projects.”

In order to examine the long-term effects of floating photovoltaic systems in detail, an analysis of water will be conducted over several years.

Image: Baywa re

Biesheuvel explained that this approach also allows to better deal with wind and wave impact. The solar boats are set up with four big floats and include a steel roof-like frame that holds the 16 PV modules – eight east facing and eight west facing. “This way, the wind can’t get hold of the system,” he stated, adding that the plant required a surface of only 24ha. “On land – where south facing is more common, a project with this size would require a lot more land space.”

Additional advantages, according to him, would be the need for only one medium-voltage cable from the floating system to land and a more even distribution of the electricity generated by the facility into the grid. Dutch energy provider Blauwvinger Energie will sell the power to local residents and businesses.

Baywa re sold the plant to a consortium consisting of provincial energy transition fund Energiefonds Overijssel, Blauwvinger Energie itself, and an unnamed private investor in July. Construction on the facility began in February 2020.

Groenleven has already built a 14.5 MW floating array near Zwolle, a 2 MW facility in Weperpolder and an 8 MW floating plant in Tynaarlo, all in the Netherlands. The nation has enormous floating PV potential because of its 52,000ha of shallow inland water.

*The article was amended to reflect that the PV plant has not been commissioned as we previously reported.

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