July 5, 2024

0.5MWp Offshore Solar Pilot Installed in Dutch North Sea

The Merganser, a 0.5 MWp offshore floating solar pilot project, has been successfully deployed at the North Sea Farmers' offshore test site in the Dutch North Sea. The upcoming phases involve technical and environmental monitoring to further evaluate the technology.

Offshore Floating Solar: A Technological Marvel

A significant milestone in renewable energy has been achieved with the successful installation of Merganser, a 0.5 megawatt peak (MWp) offshore floating solar pilot. The project, spearheaded by the Dutch-Norwegian company SolarDuck and supported by energy giant RWE, has been set up at the North Sea Farmers offshore test site in the Dutch North Sea, about 12 kilometers off the coast of Scheveningen.

Merganser, designed to test and demonstrate various technical aspects of offshore floating photovoltaic (OFPV) systems, marks a significant step towards large-scale commercial deployment of this innovative technology. The installation comprises six interconnected platforms that can endure the harsh conditions of the open sea, a critical requirement for the feasibility of such projects in offshore environments.

Offshore floating solar is a groundbreaking approach to renewable energy, ideal for countries with ample sunlight but lower wind speeds. By utilizing the ocean's surface, these systems boost solar energy production without using land.

Merganser's triangular platform floats above water, mimicking wave motions to keep components dry and stable, ensuring structural integrity and efficiency. Its design has earned the first-ever certification for offshore floating solar from Bureau Veritas, highlighting its reliability and potential.

Collaborative Effort and Expertise

RWE's extensive experience and expertise in offshore wind energy have been instrumental in the development and deployment of the Merganser project. Sven Utermöhlen, CEO of RWE Offshore Wind, emphasized the importance of this collaboration: "Standalone or in combination with offshore wind farms, offshore floating solar could open up further offshore renewable energy opportunities – especially for countries with lower average wind speeds but lots of sunlight. With Merganser, we are gaining unique insights and first-hand experience in one of the most challenging offshore environments in the world."

SolarDuck's CEO, Koen Burgers, highlighted the collective effort behind the project: "The successful installation of Merganser is proof of the dedication of SolarDuck’s team to electrify the world with offshore floating solar. However, we are not doing this alone. Our project partner, RWE, is a supporter of our technology and vision, in addition to other partners such as TNO, TU Delft, MARIN, and Deltares. Together with numerous supply chain partners, including Damen Shipyards, TMA, and Norsk Hydro, we have turned hard work into a positive change for the energy space."

The next phase of the Merganser project involves rigorous technical and environmental monitoring. Equipped with over 180 sensors, the pilot will be remotely monitored to gather data on structural loads, connector and mooring loads, and electrical performance, among other critical metrics. This comprehensive monitoring system will provide valuable insights into the operation and resilience of OFPV systems under real-world conditions.

Furthermore, Deltares, a Dutch independent institute for applied research, will lead an extensive campaign to assess the ecological impact of OFPV. Understanding how these systems interact with marine environments is crucial for their sustainable integration into the global energy mix.

A Vision for the Future

The successful deployment of Merganser is more than a technical achievement; it represents a significant step forward in the quest for sustainable energy solutions. The combination of RWE's market leadership in offshore wind and SolarDuck's innovative technology forms a powerful alliance poised to accelerate the development and deployment of offshore floating solar.

Over the coming years, the data and insights gathered from Merganser will be invaluable in refining the design and implementation of OFPV systems, paving the way for larger, more efficient solar farms at sea. As the world continues to grapple with the challenges of climate change and energy security, projects like Merganser offer a glimpse into a future where renewable energy is abundant, reliable, and sustainable.

The installation of Merganser is a landmark achievement in the renewable energy sector, showcasing the potential of offshore floating solar technology. With continued support from industry leaders and rigorous monitoring, this pilot project will provide crucial data to advance the commercialization of OFPV systems.

You may also like

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}