Dutch team plans 2,500 sq m floating solar farm for North Sea

Construction has begun on a Dutch scheme to float a 2,500 sq m solar farm 15km off the coast of Scheveningen.

The project is due to be operational by 2021, with the photovoltaic solar modules able to produce 15% more energy at sea than they would on land, as the sea water will provide natural cooling.

The team behind the project is made up of Dutch startup Oceans of Energy, energy researcher ECN, hydrodynamic researcher Maritime Research Institute of the Netherlands, independent research organization TNO, energy firm TAQA, TKI Urban Energy and Utrecht University.

Wilfried van Sark, an associate professor at Utrecht University, said there were some drawbacks to the location: "The solar panels will at times be underwater, when the waves reach heights of 10m, this is unavoidable.

"The panels will wobble a bit, too. The impact of those dynamic shifts in tilt angle hasn’t yet been studied, either."

The team says in a press release that in future, research gathered during this project could be used for floating panels to be used in the gaps between wind turbines.

Floating solar modules could also be installed around oil and gas projects at sea.

The solar panels will be more durable than those on land, to make sure they can withstand the waves.

The Dutch Enterprise Agency, part of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate, will fund the development for three years. 

Image: An oil platform in the Dutch part of the North Sea (Wikimedia Commons)

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