The World’s First Floating Solar Farm
Netherlands to Build a Giant Solar Farm at Sea
Due to a shortage of land needed to build a utility-scale solar power farm, the Netherlands thought of a unique solution—bring the solar panels to sea. According to reports, six companies and knowledge institutions are behind the ambitious project. The ‘floating solar farm’ will cost €2 million to construct. However, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate is said to support the plan, even subsidizing €1.4 million.
The Dutch as Renewable Energy Advocates
The floating solar farm project is not at all surprising because the Dutch are well-known supporters of renewable energy. To date, the largest solar installation in the country, built on land, is Sunport Delfzijl. The solar energy park consists of approximately 123,000 solar panels which are installed in an area as large as 65 football fields. It can produce up to 30 megawatts of power, providing electricity to 10,000 homes.
Apart from solar, the country is also using power from other renewable sources such as biomass, wind, and both geothermal and aerothermal. In the Netherlands, locals can actually choose to buy renewable electricity. A large part of the supply sold comes from Norway, which generates its electricity from hydropower plants. The National Action Plan on Solar Power (NAZ) estimates that 2.5 million Dutch households will be on solar power by 2023.
Why the Floating Solar Farm Project
The consortium is formed by ECN, TNO, MARIN, TAQA, and Oceans of Energy for a 3-year collaboration. Why a floating farm? The initiators of the project, Oceans of Energy, is aiming for a new hope with regards to unlimited amounts of clean energy for the world. They also believe that it is a feasible project for the Netherlands as it is surrounded by coastal regions. More so, it fits well with Dutch maritime background and offshore competencies.
They also mentioned a few other good reasons. For starters, a floating farm will not use scarce land space. Also, solar panels at sea can generate 15% higher yields. It has to do with the solar reflection between the surface of the water and clouds. Lastly, the site will be able to provide a cooler operating station for the workers.
If the floating solar farm project is successful, the solar power generated could potentially provide three quarters of the country’s energy needs. This is according to program director of the solar power division of TKI Urban Energy, Wijnand van Hooff. The structure will be built 15 kms off the shore of Scheveningen. It will start with a 2,500 square km ‘pilot solar power station.’
Some Foreseeable Challenges Ahead
The floating solar farm is an important green achievement for the Netherlands. However, the building stage of the project could be a complicated endeavor. It is believed that gigantic waves and the infamous Dutch weather are the biggest obstacles to overcome. Nevertheless, the project coordinators are confident with their experience on offshore constructions.
Construction will begin with a test - just a 30 sqm. solar farm nine miles off the coast of the Hague. It would be positioned near existing offshore wind turbines. If the test is successful, the farm will be expanded to its full size of 2,500 sqm. That is, if the solar panels survive the harsh forces of the sea. The floating solar farm is expected to be finished by 2021.