In just days, two projects promise to materialize floating solar in open seas. Equinor, a company that develops gas, wind, oil, and solar energy, announced its participation in a solar trial offshore with Moss Maritime pass an island in Norway.
Then, the Ocean Sun, another Norwegian firm, revealed that it secured funding for a trial of a floating photovoltaic system of about 250-kilowatt over the Atlantic coast, along with Fred Olsen, a wind specialist.
The rise of solar on water bodies has been observed globally. Despite the challenges of constructing and running PV systems offshore, many companies have begun their experiments.
In an interview with the CEO of Ocean Sun, Borge Bjorneklett, he expressed that the goal of the project in Canary island is both a development and research effort that tests technologies in harsh marine conditions. They’re planning to launch it for commercial use in the future.
According to Borge, Fred Olsen prepares for commercialization and opens the opportunity for the deployment of floating solar. Moreover, he states that Ocean Sun needs to partner with other established players to take on massive projects that require a considerable amount of megawatts and an expense that will reach more than a hundred million.
Cooling of the Ocean Surface Boosts Solar Production
Ocean Sun created a floating technology that can function amidst high waves and storms. At the center of its blueprint is a membrane. It’s where the PV module is located, which allows the pad to go along with large waves instead of taking its impact. Another advantage is minimizing the air space between water level and modules, which results in a cooling reaction that increases the production by about 5%.
In 2019, Statkraft, the largest operator of hydropower in Europe, bought four systems equal to 500-kilowatt each from Ocean Sun. Once the construction is complete, it will serve as a project demonstration in Albania’s reservoir.
The Possibility of Offshore Wind Hybrids
There have been many discussions regarding the worth of wind sites offshore by attaching turbines and floating PV. However, Bjorneklett is doubtful. He states that such a type of hybridization may only offer small power production.
Instead, he believes that the best potential for wind sources is near-shore applications close to the land to reduce costs for connections. Also, it is preferable because it will not be visually intrusive.
In the Maldives, the consumption of power is great because of tourism. However, it is also polluting and costly due to diesel generators. According to him, such places are perfect for floating solar energy sources because of good irradiation. That is where the world can create a massive influence in reducing CO2 emissions.
According to Rolf Johansen, a director at Fred Olsen Renewables, offshore solar is ideal in locations where land is lacking, and seawater is abundant. Johansen expressed that such places (e.g., archipelagos) have the greatest potential for solar power offshore. There’s a huge potential as long as good policies are set up.