German energy firm RWE will invest in a pilot project that is built around the deployment of floating solar technology in the North Sea, as part of a wider collaboration focused on the development of “floating solar parks.”
It will be set up in Ostend, Belgium, and is called Merganser. It will have a capacity of 0.5-megawatt peak or MWp. RWE said Merganser would be Dutch-Norwegian firm SolarDuck’s first offshore pilot.
RWE said Merganser would provide both itself and SolarDuck with “important first-hand experience in one of the most challenging offshore environments in the world.”
RWE described SolarDuck’s system as being based around a design enabling the solar panels to “float” meters above the water and ride waves “like a carpet.”
A goal for the future would be for SolarDuck’s technology to be used in a bigger demonstration project at the incoming Hollandse Kust West offshore wind farm, which RWE is currently tendering for.
In its statement, RWE said the “integration of offshore floating solar into an offshore wind farm” was “a more efficient use of ocean space for energy generation.”
This isn’t the first time RWE has done it. The Hollandse Kust (noord) wind farm is also planning to deploy a floating solar technology demonstration.
Earlier this month, Portuguese energy firm EDP inaugurated a 5 MW floating solar park in Alqueva. It described the park, which consists of nearly 12,000 photovoltaic panels, as “the largest in Europe in a reservoir.”
These ideas are based on the concept of “hybridization,” whereby different renewable energy technologies and systems are combined on one site.
In comments published last week, EDP CEO Miguel Stilwell d’Andrade said that “the bet on hybridization, by combining electricity produced from water, sun, wind and storage” represented a “logical path of growth.”