Internship assignment: Adding solar-at-sea to offshore energy systems

Description of the internship assignment

In this internship, we are looking for a student who can identify the opportunities and risks of adding solar energy to offshore energy systems, which includes windfarms and (futuristic) offshore power hubs. The leading organization of the internship is Rijkswaterstaat (innovation department, located in Utrecht), where the student can develop a multi-disciplinary approach to the complexity of adding this energy source at the North Sea. Next to that, Oceans of Energy will provide additional support to the student, by sharing their knowledge of solar energy at sea. Finally, Alliander is involved as well, by supporting the intern on quantifying the benefits of adding solar to optimize the offshore grid.

Moving solar to the sea

Solar energy is a feasible technology, but uses a lot of space on land and is causing conflicts with other spatial users such as neighbors, agriculture, and forestry. Wind energy had similar problems and is now moving to sea. The offshore wind industry is surging as a result. It seems that this clean energy source is vital to the renewable energy plans of the Netherlands. However, an energy system based on the variability of one renewable energy source is not desirable and not viable. At Oceans of Energy, we have developed a world’s first application to bring solar energy to the sea. As announced recently through (international) news channels, we are setting up a pilot farm with several leading partners in the North Sea. It is the goal of the pilot to show the viability of offshore solar, after which we want to scale to a product that can be used inside offshore wind farms.

Focus areas feasibility study – offshore power hubs

As solar has a higher energy density, we can increase the power yield per km2 windfarm up to 5 times. Next to that, we can share grid infrastructure, and we can increase the reliability of the power supply, as wind and solar are to a large extent complementary (when it’s sunny, it’s usually not that windy etc.). Previous research on land has shown that the benefits of adding solar to a wind grid are large. We expect this at sea to be even more important, as the offshore grid is more expensive. In the energy scenarios from 2030 onwards in the Netherlands, it seems viable to use offshore wind in combination with a storage technology such as power-to-gas, in which peak-loads are converted into hydrogen or another type of fuel. Currently, these plans are made in a consortium called the ‘North Sea Wind Power Hub’. The focus of this consortium is strongly on ‘wind’ power, but there might be a very interesting synergy possible with offshore solar as well.

Profile of the intern:

• Master student, preferably in energy sciences or energy systems • Preferred experience with energy modelling, techno-economic feasibility studies, and a multi-disciplinary approach • Excellent English language skills, preferably professional level in Dutch • Driven, curious and solutions-oriented; bringing solutions rather than listing problems • Good communicator, able to work at multiple organizations


Please send your motivation and CV to