In the Netherlands, there is no space on the land where the government can install the giant solar panels. The land is premium in the country so the cost of building large solar farms is much higher than building them anywhere else in the world. This issue has caused the Netherlands to stay behind in the race as compared to other countries when it came to transitioning to renewable energy. As a solution to this problem, Netherlands is now considering building solar farms on the surface of the ocean. Reuters reported that an offshore seaweed farm will be turned into a floating solar farm in next three years. This way solar-power can be provided in the country.
Before beginning the project properly, a test will be performed. A 30-square meter solar farm about nine miles off the coast of Hague will be the test subject here. The farm will be located between the two offshore wind turbines and connected to the same cables. So the project won’t be needing any extra infrastructure. If the test project is successful and the panels are rugged enough to produce cheap electricity, the farm will be expanded to a full size of 2500-square meters. The project managers are hoping that the solar farm will be finished by 2021.
The solar farms which are offshore instead of being on the land have their own advantages. Apart from saving the land costs, offshore panels receive more sunlight due to lack of obstacles near them. The water acts as a coolant to increase efficiency. So the project doesn’t require a separate coolant. An expert from Utrecht University said that these benefits can improve the solar panel efficiency up to 15%.
China is already using the offshore solar panels and several farms have been built on larger lakes there. However, on the open sea, this will be the first floating solar farm. This will also bring some unique challenges. If the Dutch found a way to overcome those challenges and successfully built a cost-effective solar farm, it will allow the Netherlands and several other countries to increase their power generation using renewable sources in a cheap and efficient way.