A consortium of six Dutch companies and research institutions has announced plans to develop the world’s first floating offshore solar plant.
No large-scale offshore solar arrays currently exist, though the technology would benefit islands and population-dense countries with limited available land.
The consortium — which includes Utrecht University, Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands and renewable technology firm Oceans of Energy — will develop and install the plant over the next three years.
The group hopes to operate 2,500 square metres of floating solar panels by 2021, following a successful pilot demonstration next year. Utrecht University will conduct a study into the energy production of the prototype, which will be located around 15km off the coast of The Hague.
Though seawater is expected to increase a panel’s energy yield by providing a cooling effect, there are other factors that could negatively impact performance. These include submersion in water and dynamic shifts in tilt angle.
“While solar farms have been constructed on inland bodies of water before, they have never been built offshore because of the difficulty of the undertaking,” says Allard van Hoeken, founder of Oceans of Energy.
“After all, it's a place where you're dealing with huge waves and other destructive forces of nature. With the knowledge and experience of these Dutch knowledge institutions and businesses from the offshore industry, however, we are convinced we will succeed.”