French startup deploys 300 kW offshore solar pilot in Mediterranean


From pv magazine France

French startup SolarinBlue has launched the first two units of an offshore solar plant demonstrator near Sète-Frontignan,  France.

Antoine Retailleau, the company's co-founder and operational director, said the project is the first of its kind in France.

“When it will be completed in 2024, the pilot called Sun'Sète will include a total of 25 floating units for a power of 300 kW, on an area of 5,000 m2,” he told pv magazine France. It will be anchored 1.5 kilometers from the coast, at the site of the former offshore hydrocarbon unloading station, where the water depth is 15 meters.

The floats were specially designed in-house to withstand high seas. The modules are 12 meters long and wide and can accommodate 20 solar panels, with a combined power of approximately 10 kW. The panels are installed at a height of 3.5 meters.

Recycled high-density polyethylene (HDPE) floats and treated steel lattice frame ensure the buoyancy of the structure, which can withstand 12-meter dips and 200 kmh winds, according to the company.

“The units can be interconnected to create MW islands which themselves can be grouped together to form solar parks with a power of up to 1 GW,” said Aurélien Croq, development director for SolarinBlue.

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The researchers worked to minimize the environmental impact of the anchor.

“We have developed a system of helical anchors, combined with a tensioned anchor in synthetic lines,” said Croq. “This solution provides two benefits. Firstly, it occupies a very small surface area on the ground, less than 1 square meter, and secondly, it works with a taut line that preserves the seabed because there is no dredging of the area with a chain. Finally, the device is fully reversible as all you have to do is unscrew the screw when dismantling the structure.”

The floating solar power plant will be connected to the port's grid via an undersea cable to be installed at the end of 2023. It will supply power to the infrastructure of the port of Sète-Frontignan.

SolarinBlue says it aims to position itself within three years as a world leader in floating offshore solar photovoltaics. It aims to cover the entire value chain, from technological development to the operation of floating PV projects.

“We are considering two areas of growth: the development of our own solution, in line with our financial capacities, and the supply of the solution to EPC companies or developers for greater powers,” said Retailleau.

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