Photo: Illustration/L to R: Oceans of Solar’s and SolarDuck’s floating solar systems (Courtesy of Oceans of Solar/SolarDuck)

Netherlands: Three projects to share €300K to advance offshore floating solar sector

Three project consortia – involving technology developers Oceans of Energy and SolarDuck – have been selected to receive €100,000 each to further advance offshore floating solar industry in the Netherlands.

Illustration/L to R: Oceans of Solar’s and SolarDuck’s floating solar systems (Courtesy of Oceans of Solar/SolarDuck)
Illustration/L to R: Oceans of Solar’s and SolarDuck’s floating solar systems (Courtesy of Oceans of Solar/SolarDuck)

The announcement follows innovation call, launched by TKI Wind op Zee together with TKI Urban Energy back in October 2021, to support organizations in exploring research and innovations in floating solar energy.

Three project consortia have been selected to receive €100,000 each, bringing together SolarDuck and TNO in the BOC project, Deltares and Oceans of Energy for the CeFlar project, and MARIN and SolarDuck in the WindForce project.

Big Offshore Coupling (BOC) project

SolarDuck has recently successfully commissioned its first offshore floating solar prototype. However, large OFPV assemblies of more than 10MWp is the target and this requires an upgrade of the connections to cope with the high waves and high winds.

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TNO and SolarDuck will therefore jointly develop a robust coupling in this research that has both resilient and damping properties.

During the research, the spring/damper characteristics will be determined under various conditions on the basis of really large tests at TNO.

The calculation method to be developed will be validated on the basis of this. This is expected to result in a significant reduction in peak loads and vibration levels. This can be beneficial in reducing the mass and costs of the coupling and construction of offshore floating solar installations.

Cables in Floating Solar (CeFlar) project

Oceans of Energy’s offshore floating solar panels have withstood many storms on the high seas in the past two years. In the CeFlar project, Deltares and Oceans of Energy will investigate the effect of waves and currents on the electricity cables of a solar park in typical North Sea conditions.

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The cables that carry the electricity from the floating solar farm to the transformer station must be strong and flexible enough to withstand different wave and current conditions.

In the Delta Flume, a nearly 300-metre long Deltares wave facility, a prototype cable will be tested under various wave and current conditions. This research is expected to provide more insight into the forces on the cables.

The results of this research can then be applied to theoretical concepts about the effect of North Sea conditions on cable infrastructure and translated into realistic solutions. The results can also be used to optimize the design of cable protection systems.

Wind Induced Dynamics of Floating OffshoRe solar (WindForce) project

Since offshore floating solar plants preferably consists of large areas with low construction weight, in order to reduce the associated costs, it is inherently sensitive to wind loads. The combination of wind dynamics with waves and coupled structures is at the current end of what is possible in modern modelling techniques.

This study aims to take modelling techniques and knowledge about the phenomena of wind wave and lightweight construction interaction to the next level.

In a collaboration, MARIN and SolarDuck will investigate the interaction between wind, wave and offshore floating solar systems.

For this research, CFD simulations will be made of the combination of waves, wind, anchorage and linked platforms. The obtained simulation results will be validated with integrated wind and wave testing in the wave basin at MARIN, the developers said.

With their research, SolarDuck and MARIN want to further position the Netherlands as an expert knowledge center, developer and ultimately exporter of offshore floating solar systems.

In addition, the improved understanding of the interaction with the wind wave structure will help to save costs and create a competitive advantage for all offshore floating solar developers.

According to the roadmap for floating solar energy, released by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate, large-scale application of offshore floating solar in the North Sea could be possible in the next 10 to 20 years.

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However, the market is currently still facing challenges such as costs, the demanding maritime environment and integration into the energy system.

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