A German energy company called RWE is planning to invest in a pilot project in the North Sea focused on deploying floating solar technology. According to a statement released by RWE earlier this week, Merganser will be the first offshore pilot for Dutch-Norwegian company SolarDuck. This coalition would be part of a larger mission centered on developing ‘floating solar parks.’
The 0.5-megawatt peak (MWp) pilot, known as Merganser, is slated for installation in the waters off Ostend, Belgium. The SolarDuck system, according to RWE, is based on a design that enables the solar panels to “float” meters above the water and rides waves “like a carpet.”
A longer-term objective of the partnership is to use SolarDuck’s technology in a more extensive demonstration project at the offshore wind farm Hollandse Kust West, which RWE is currently bidding on.
The integration of offshore floating solar into an offshore wind farm, according to RWE, is “a more efficient use of ocean space for energy generation.” According to RWE, Merganser will provide “important first-hand experience in one of the most challenging offshore environments in the world.” From 2023 on, the project’s lessons will speed up the commercialization of the technology.
The integration of offshore floating solar into an offshore wind farm, according to RWE, is “a more efficient use of ocean space for energy generation.”
The Hollandse Kust (Noord) wind farm is situated in the North Sea and intends to use a floating solar technology demonstration. This project feeds into “hybridization,” meaning different renewable energy technologies and systems are combined on one site. Still, it’s important to note that RWE is not the first company to integrate solar and wind energy.
Gas supplier Eneco and gas distributor Shell have teamed up to form CrossWind, a consortium building Hollandse Kust (Noord).
EDP, a Portuguese energy company, opened a 5 MW floating solar park in Alqueva earlier this month. A statement referred to as the Park has nearly 12,000 photovoltaic panels, as “the largest in Europe in a reservoir.” According to EDP, the project would make it possible to combine solar energy with hydroelectric power from the Alqueva dam. According to plans, EDP will also put a battery storage system in place.
The bet on hybridization, which takes energy from water, sun, wind, and storage, was described as a “logical path of growth” by EDP CEO Miguel Stilwell d’Andrade. The CEO added that EDP plans to continue investments into hybridization due to its ability to assist the company in producing cheaper energy while making the most use of its natural resources.