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.
The partners of Tractebel, Jan De Nul Group, DEME, Soltech and Ghent University believe that solar photovoltaic (PV) panels in offshore waters are one of the essential future green energy sources.
The development is a logical next step after the successful introduction of fresh water floating PV on lakes and dams and low-wave offshore applications in lagoons and other sheltered environments.
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 has to be designed.
The consortium partners bring together various skills: 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. 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.
The consortium is a joint industry and government initiative and is supported by a budget of about € 2 million to develop new concepts and field testing to take the first steps towards the commercialization of the technology.
The ultimate ambition is to realize offshore solar farms in the Belgian North Sea – eventually in combination with windfarms or aquaculture.
In this way, the partners position themselves in this new, fast-evolving market.