Picture showing three 150 MW offshore solar standard formats in-between offshore wind turbines. Source: Oceans of Energy

16 European partners kick off project to scale up offshore solar

Sixteen European partners have started an EU joint industry project (JIP) where floating solar technology is scaled up to standard formats of 150 MW enabling to build gigawatt scale farms.

The BAMBOO project (Building scAlable Modular Bamboo-inspired Offshore sOlar systems) aims to resolve challenges for the rollout of large-scale offshore solar into new and existing wind farms.

This also involves proving the robustness and performance of the floating solar panels in offshore conditions, alongside researching their environmental impact to ensure sustainability across the whole value chain of this industry.

This collaboration is coordinated by RINA and gathers offshore solar developer Oceans of Energy, technology developers Solarge, TKF, Pauwels Transformers, SolarCleano, technical and environmental consultancies RINA, ABS, Aquatera Ltd, Aquatera Atlantico, and WavEC, testing laboratories MARIN, Fraunhofer CSP, SIRRIS, the marine science-policy think-tank European Marine Board, and offshore wind farm developer Vattenfall as potential client for implementation.

BAMBOO project partners, source: Oceans of Energy

“This project will contribute to enable feasible business cases of solar renewable energy offshore”, said Andrea Bombardi, Carbon Reduction Excellence Executive Vice President of RINA.  

“RINA, thanks to the leading experience in the provision of energy yield assessment services for solar plants and in floating offshore systems, will pioneer the development of a new predictive yield model applicable to this emerging technology. We will bring to the project our competence in ground-native solutions offshore, in static and dynamic analysis on dynamic export cables, in comparative analysis between different power export layouts, in the definition of recycling strategies for PVs and electrical components at the end of their life, and in the coordination of EU-funded projects.”  

Envisioned results

The desired outcome for the BAMBOO project is to mature the technologies and allow for attracting the funds for the pioneering 100-200 MW offshore solar farm within a Vattenfall offshore wind farm by the end of the decade. 

The specific wind farm for this development is yet to be determined. 

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Lower investments

According to Oceans of Energy, the complementarity between energy patterns of a co-located offshore solar and wind farm enables more efficient utilization of the same grid connection, reducing the need for investments in expanding the energy system.

By utilizing offshore wind farm space for floating solars, the required space for generating renewable energy on both land and at sea can be significantly reduced.

As reported in January 2024, the industry needs to start shifting its focus from wind farms to energy farms, as we have limited space that needs to be used efficiently – synergy of offshore wind and floating solar wind is the way to go.

“Oceans of Energy is proud to advance offshore solar further towards a real gamechanger in the renewable energy transition, by bringing these standardized, large scale offshore solar farms to the world,” said Allard van Hoeken, Founder and CEO of Oceans of Energy

“Offshore solar is becoming a major contributor to the energy transition in the North Sea. We are kickstarting the development of a standardized offshore solar building block, which fits right in-between four offshore wind turbines. This allows for optimized multi-source offshore energy farms without competing for scarce and limited land space.”  

The increased scale of floating solar farms can reduce their environmental impacts per installed capacity, as there is reduced reliance on seabed anchors and the electricity export cable can be centralized on a larger floating platform, said Oceans of Energy.

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International standards

This project is expected to play a role in advancing international standards and testing methods for floating solar technology.

The innovation program is set to conduct hydrodynamic assessments at MARIN, climate chamber tests at SIRRIS, tests for PV panels at Fraunhofer, as well as accelerated lifetime tests based on offshore measurements & operations.

Further research is to be conducted on predicting and improving lifetime energy performance. 

There will also be an emphasis on measuring and predicting the environmental impact of this technology, such as methods for contributing to nature enhancement and end-of-life management.

These efforts are geared towards internationally aligned policies including environmental assessment criteria frameworks.