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Exploring the potential of floating solar energy

Solar energy is an important alternative energy source but in a densely populated country like the Netherlands the space for solar parks is very limited. Therefore it is time to turn to the water and for MARIN to assist!


William Otto & Ingo Drummen

18 report

ARIN is playing a role in furthering several elements of the energy transition and in the case of floating solar energy it is

performing model tests, numerical simulations and full-scale measurements.

Model testing In the last two years several floating, solar concepts have been tested at MARIN’s basin facilities. This is an interesting field to work in, as floating solar is in the pioneering phase and so the concepts are still quite diverse. What makes floating solar different from existing offshore floaters is the small payload and large span of areas. With an average payload of less than 100 kg/m2 for the panels, wiring and micro-converters, the payload

only adds a couple of centimetres to the draught of the floaters. This facilitates lightweight constructions, which are also necessary from a cost perspective.

However, with production in the order of a megawatt per hectare, large areas are needed in order to have a significant energy yield. The combination of lightweight constructions with a large span inevitably results in flexible constructions, which are either continuously flexible or flexible in segments. This brings new challenges for model- scale basin testing. Lightweight constructions become even lighter when produced at model scale, which puts strict weight restrictions on sensors and transducer (cables).

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