Floating solar technology is being used for the first time to power a seaweed farm off the coast of the Netherlands.
The solar PV-powered aquaculture plant has been developed by Dutch companies Oceans of Energy and The Seaweed Company and is located 12km off Scheveningen in the north of the country.
The developers say this is a “world-first for sustainable, multifunctional use of space in the North Sea” and the plant aims to be an example for future designs.
The 50kW hybrid project, whose modules are spread across a 6sq km swathe of sea, builds on the Zon-op-Zee (Solar at Sea) pilot run late in 2019, where a floating solar PV array rode out three months of trials in harsh weather including the Ciara bomb cyclone.
Oceans of Energy’s floating PV concept was engineered to handle waves 13m-high waves at the seaweed harvesting project site.
It is intended to be used as part of a larger offshore power complex that would combine solar arrays ranging from 100MW-5GW to wind farms with energy storage.
Though high-wave solar remains an emerging technology, in-land arrays are being seen as an increasingly attractive option for large-scale PV deployment on reservoirs and alongside hydropower facilities, especially where land is limited.
Seaweed collection will be carried out by an offshore harvesting machine developed by the project team in collaboration with several Dutch partners.
“Seaweed has lots of valuable applications in food for humans, animals and plants, but can also serve as basis for materials, bioplastics and energy,” said Joost Wouters, CEO of the Seaweed Compan.
Wouters believes that the future of large-scale seaweed production lies at offshore wind parks.
The offshore solar-powered seaweed farm is part of the European H2020United project, launched to kick-start “sustainable and multi-use offshore systems” in European Union waters.
By using only 5% of the Dutch North Sea area to develop floating solar PV farms, half of the energy demand of the Netherlands can be generated.
This can be accomplished by using the space between offshore wind turbines according to Allard van Hoeken, CEO of Oceans of Energy.