The development of solar energy at sea has great potential to contribute to the energy transition. To accelerate innovations, TKI Wind op Zee, in collaboration with TKI Urban Energy, issued an open innovation call at the end of last year for research into solutions for the biggest challenges for offshore solar installations. Three consortia have now each received €100 000 from TKI Wind op Zee for further research, one of which is the Deltares and Oceans of Energy with the CeFlar project.
Offshore Floater PhotoVoltaics (OFPV) offers huge opportunities for the energy transition and energy independence of the Netherlands. Where land scarcity and the full electricity grid in the north and east of the Netherlands are an important bottleneck for land-based solar parks, the sea between the wind turbines still offers an infinite amount of acreage. Solar parks at sea are therefore an ideal solution for countries with little space and a lot of water, such as the Netherlands, and can be perfectly integrated into existing offshore wind farms.
According to the Roadmap “Sun at See” of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate, large-scale application of OFPV in the North Sea could be possible in the next 10 to 20 years. However, the market is currently still facing challenges such as costs, the demanding maritime environment and integration into the energy system. In the Dutch North Sea, for example, we sometimes see very high waves that technological innovations have to be able to cope with. These challenges are included in the Multi-Year Mission-oriented Innovation Program for the energy transition. The three winning consortia will carry out further research into floating solar parks at sea. The aim is to bring large-scale applications closer.
CeFlar – Cables in Floating Solar (Deltares, Oceans of Energy)
Oceans of Energy’s offshore floating solar panels have withstood many storms on the high seas in the past 2 years (Ciara, Dennis, Bella, Evert, Corrie, Dennis, Eunice & Franklin). In the Cables in Floating Solar project, Deltares and Oceans of Energy will investigate the effect of waves and currents on the electricity cables of a solar park in typical North Sea conditions. The cables that carry the electricity from the floating solar farm to the transformer station must be strong and flexible enough to withstand different wave and current conditions. In the Delta Flume, a nearly 300-metre long Deltares wave facility, a prototype cable is tested under various wave and current conditions. This research provides more insight into the forces on the cables. The results of this research can then be applied to theoretical concepts about the effect of North Sea conditions on cable infrastructure and translated into realistic solutions. The results can also be used to optimize the design of cable protection systems.