A North Sea Experimental Project Will Develop Gliding Solar Panels

“Floating solar parks” are being developed in the North Sea. German energy company RWE has agreed to invest in a trial project focusing on the deployment of floating solar technology in the region.

The Merganser pilot, located off the coast of Ostend, Belgium, has a peak power output of 0.5 megawatts, or MWp. RWE announced earlier this week that the company Merganser would be the first offshore pilot for the Dutch-Norwegian firm SolarDuck.

An “essential first-hand experience” in “one of the most demanding offshore locations in the world” would be provided by Merganser, RWE added.

Based on the experiment’s findings, commercialization could begin as early as 2023.

According to RWE, SolarDuck’s technology is built on a design that allows the solar panels to “float” meters above the water and ride waves “like a carpet.”

Longer term, SolarDuck hopes to apply its technology in a more extensive demonstration project at the Hollandse Kust West offshore wind farm, which RWE is now tendering for.

RWE stated that the “integration of offshore floating solar into an offshore wind farm” was “a more efficient use of ocean space for electricity generation” in a statement.

RWE isn’t the first to think of mixing wind and solar power. For example, Hollandse Kust (North Sea) wind farm, which will also be located in the North Sea, is planning to demonstrate floating solar technology.

Eneco and Shell are partners in the CrossWind partnership developing the Hollandse Kust (Noord) region.

EDP, a Portuguese energy company, opened a 5 MW floating solar park in Alqueva earlier this month. Described it as “the largest in Europe in a reservoir” with approximately 12,000 solar panels.

EDP added that the Alqueva dam’s hydroelectric electricity could be supplemented with solar power. A battery storage system is also in the works.

All of the above initiatives are a step toward “hybridization,” combining several renewable energy technologies and systems in one location.

CEO Miguel Stilwell d’Andrade of EDP stated that “the bet on hybridization, by integrating electricity produced by water, sun, wind, and storage” was a “logical path of growth.”

According to EDP’s CEO, the company will continue to invest in hybridization because it maximizes resources and reduces the cost of producing electricity.

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