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New floating solar projects inside of existing wind farms

3 min read

Floating solar the future green energy?

Offshore floating solar farms in the future can contribute to renewable green energy production, especially in conjunction with existing offshore wind farms. Solar modules deployed in the spaces between wind turbines could supply additional energy without the loss of space. When solar modules are used in the space between wind turbine foundations, 5 times more energy is generated from the same area.

Global locations

Offshore solar could be the way forward for energy production in coastal regions or islands and should not affect sea floor organisms as there is rarely any significant light below 200 meters (656 feet) water depth, significantly less so in muddier water conditions. Half of the world’s population lives in coastal areas and remote island communities have limited on land space for conventional solar farms.

Wind farm integration

Hollandse Kust wind farm in the Netherlands is being built by a joint venture between Shell and Eneco and will include solar energy modules in the construction. The Hollandse Kust offshore wind farm is expected to be operational in 2023 with the installation of combination solar following in 2025.

Figure 1 – Hollandse Kust wind farm viewed on VesselsValue Mapping & Tracking

World’s first

The world’s first offshore floating solar farm was installed off the coast of Zeeland in the Netherlands North Sea in November 2019 by the Dutch operator Oceans of Energy. The project named ‘Zon op Zee (Solar-at-Sea)’ was developed and constructed by a consortium of Dutch companies including TNO, MARIN, ONE-Dyas and Oceans of Energy. So far, this solar pilot project has survived storms including Ciara, Dennis and Bella.

According to the operators of the Solar-at-Sea project Oceans of Energy predict offshore solar can supply half of the Dutch total energy demand while using less than 5% of the Dutch sector of the North Sea. Apparently this 5% of sea space can be found within existing and planned offshore wind farms.

Figure 2 below shows the amount of operational wind farms by individual country, with most operational wind farms installed in the southern North Sea.

Figure 2 – Operational wind farms by country using VesselsValue data

Upcoming projects

The world’s largest planned offshore floating solar project is to be found at a 150MW development in Anhui, China. However, there are future projects planned in India (1GW) and in South Korea (3GW). Other projects are planned in Norway by Ocean Sun technology which combine floating solar within the country’s already abundant aquaculture infrastructure. This project would integrate floating solar membranes within an open-sea salmon farm.

Figure 3 below details the amount of under-construction wind farms by individual country, showing the majority of wind farms under-construction in 2021 are in China.

Figure 3 – Under-construction wind farms by country using VesselsValue data

Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is to provide general information and not to provide advice or guidance in relation to particular circumstances. Readers should not make decisions in reliance on any statement or opinion contained in this blog.

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