Irish company designs floating solar platform for green hydrogen production

SolarMarine Energy, an Irish start-up based in Co Mayo, has designed an innovative floating hybrid renewable energy system which could offer sustainable low carbon solution for Irish coastal communities.

Floating Solar Energy Hybrid Project illustration (Courtesy of The Marine Institute)
Floating Solar Energy Hybrid Project illustration (Courtesy of The Marine Institute)
Floating Solar Energy Hybrid Project illustration (Courtesy of The Marine Institute)

The research and development project, dubbed Floating Solar Energy Hybrid Project, was funded by the Marine Institute’s 2018 Industry-Led Awards scheme. Under the scheme, the Marine Institute provided €2.4 million in funding for research projects to 12 companies, working in collaboration with five Higher Education Institutions.

As part of the project, SolarMarine Energy designed a floating solar energy structure to produce green hydrogen.

Green hydrogen is generated using excess renewable energy that can be used as a clean fuel, for heating and transport or to store and transport energy.

SolarMarine Energy’s research indicates that floating solar energy is ideal for island and coastal communities, according to the Marine Institute.

Eamon Howlin, CEO of SolarMarine Energy, said: “The floating solar industry is only emerging in Europe having been established in Japan in 2014, and has a projected market value of over $1 billion by 2023. Thanks to our collaborative study in partnership with the Marine Institute and University College Cork, SolarMarine Energy is playing an important part in this developing industry”.

Paul Leahy, from Science Foundation Ireland MAREI Centre at University College Cork (UCC), said: “Our collaboration with SolarMarine Energy has been very successful and we would like to continue working with the company on a follow-up demonstrator project. A floating solar array prototype located near UCC’s Beaufort Building in Ringaskiddy, Co Cork, would allow SolarMarine and UCC to capitalise on the design work undertaken under the Marine Institute funded project, and bring the SolarMarine floating solar concept closer to market”.

Niall McDonough, Director of Policy, Research and Innovation at the Marine Institute, said: “Supporting new marine renewable energy solutions is a strategic priority for Ireland to meet the targets of the Climate Action Plan 2019. Through our competitive funding programme, the Marine Institute provides grants to companies in Ireland to undertake research and to develop innovative concepts, prototypes, solutions and business models. This kind of support is essential to boost ocean business and to enable the transition to a climate-neutral blue economy”.

The final report for the Floating Solar Energy Hybrid Project can be downloaded from the Marine Institute Open Access Repository.