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Floating solar panels studied

December 20th, 2021 / By: / EcoNote

A consortium including TNO in the Netherlands is studying the viability of collecting solar energy via floating, flexible solar panels. Photo: TNO.

A consortium led by the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) has launched a study on floating, flexible solar energy systems. IDTechEx reports that the system of floating units has been installed in the Fieldlab Green Economy Westvoorne in Oostvoornse Meer lake, near the Maasvlakte, the Netherlands, a harbour and industrial area close to Rotterdam. 

The study team is examining the energy yield of the flexible solar panels, the behavior of the floating units when faced by waves and strong winds, the growth of organic material on the units and economic viability. The pilot project, which will run until summer 2022, is the first step in the creation of economically viable offshore photovoltaic systems.

Solar collection on water is expected to make a key contribution to the energy transition. Wim Soppe, researcher at TNO and manager of the Solar@Sea II project, says, “Solar power at sea or offshore PV does not yet actually exist. It is technically very challenging to install large floating systems with solar panels at sea and keep them operational for decades. In addition, due to the expense of material used for heavy, rigid floats, it is often difficult to make these systems economically viable. This new concept requires a lot less material, and we therefore have high hopes that it will turn out to be a lot cheaper.”

TNO is partnering with Bluewater Energy Services, Genap, Marin, Endures, and Avans University of Applied Sciences. After completing this project, the next step is to build and install a system on the North Sea. 

Source: TNO and IDTechEx