July 25, 2022: -German energy firm RWE is involved in a pilot project centered around the growth of floating solar technology in the North Sea as part of a broader collaboration focused on developing “floating solar parks.”
It is ready to be included in waters off Ostend, Belgium; the Merganser pilot will have a capacity of the 0.5-megawatt peak or MWp. Earlier this week, RWE said that Merganser would be Dutch-Norwegian company SolarDuck’s first offshore pilot.
RWE said Merganser would provide itself and SolarDuck with “important first-hand experience in one of the most challenging offshore environments in the world.”
It added that learnings from the project would allow for quicker technology commercialization from 2023.
RWE described SolarDuck’s system as based on a design that enables the solar panels to “float” meters above the water and rides waves “like a carpet.”
A longer-term goal of the collaboration is for SolarDuck’s technology to be used in a more significant demonstration project at the yet-to-be-developed Hollandse Kust West offshore wind farm, which RWE is currently tendering for.
In its statement, RWE added that “integrating offshore floating solar into an offshore wind farm” was “an efficient use of ocean space for energy generation.”
The idea of combining wind and solar does not include RWE. The Hollandse Kust (Noord) wind farm, which will be located in the North Sea, is deciding to deploy a floating solar technology demonstration.
CrossWind, the consortium that works on Hollandse Kust (Noord), is a joint venture of Eneco and Shell.
This month, Portuguese energy company EDP started a 5 MW floating solar park in Alqueva. It is said that the park, having nearly 12,000 photovoltaic panels, is “the largest in Europe in a reservoir.”
EDP added that the project would allow solar power and hydroelectric energy from the dam at Alqueva to be connected. There are ideas to install a battery storage system.
All the above projects feed into “hybridization,” whereby different renewable energy technologies and systems are combined on one site.
In comments published in the previous week, EDP CEO Miguel Stilwell d’Andrade added that “the bet on hybridization, that c electricity produced from water, sun, wind, and storage,” which represents a “logical path of growth.”
He counted that EDP would continue to invest in hybridization because it optimized resources and enabled the company to produce more affordable energy.