A Dutch startup has been commissioned to install floating solar panels on an offshore wind farm in the North Sea.
Oceans of Energy won the contract from CrossWind, a joint venture between Shell and Eneco. The renewable energy startup has been commissioned to build a 0.5 MW floating array between wind turbines at the 750 MW Hollands Kust Noord wind farm, 18.5 km off the coast of the Netherlands.
According to the startup, which was founded in 2016 by Dutch engineer and entrepreneur Allard van Hoeken, this would be the first offshore solar farm in the world to be connected, installed and operated within a wind farm in “high wave conditions”.
The solar panels will be placed between the offshore wind turbines and provide backup power on sunny but less windy days. The panels are moored to the wind turbines and connected to the same cables, transporting energy efficiently to end users.
Van Hoeken says the project “will work as an example for combined offshore wind and solar parks in the future.”
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The solar panel will provide energy for approximately 500 households in 2025, two years after the wind farm has been commissioned, if it is connected to the Dutch electricity grid.
Until now, the startup has mainly relied on subsidies from the Dutch government, which it collected 20 million euros so far. However, financial details of the new contract with CrossWind were not disclosed.
Oceans of Energy built a slightly larger range in 2019 that it used to test the technology and its ability to withstand some of the roughest seas on Earth. The platform is still operational despite being hit by some pretty bad storms in recent years.
Researchers from Utrecht University closely monitored energy production in the pilot array, about 15 km off the coast of The Hague. in a test area known as the North Sea Farm.
“In addition to eliminating the problem of a shortage of land, there are several other benefits of building at sea, similar to wind energy,” says solar energy expert Wilfried van Sark of Utrecht University, who is involved in the project. Reuters. “There is more sun at sea and there is the added benefit of a cooling system for the panels, increasing efficiency by up to 15%,” he said.
This is reported by the Dutch research organization TNOIn 2050, it is expected that 200 gigawatts of solar energy will be generated in the Netherlands, of which 25 gigawatts on inland waterways and 45 at sea. This is expected to provide many opportunities for Oceans of Energy and other early stage startups such as solar ducka Norwegian-Dutch company that is currently building an even larger floating solar panel in the North Sea.