RWE and SolarDuck join forces for floating solar

4C Offshore | Tom Russell
By: 20/07/2022 RWE

RWE and the Dutch-Norwegian company SolarDuck signed a collaboration agreement to develop the use of floating solar parks at sea. RWE will invest in a first offshore pilot in the North Sea.

The pilot project is a first step in the collaboration and lays the foundation for a larger demonstration project at the
Hollandse Kust West (HKW) offshore wind farm off the Dutch coast. RWE is tendering for this project, and has included SolarDuck into its bid with a highly innovative combination of offshore floating solar with integrated storage solutions.

Taking solar farms offshore requires a technology which is able to withstand rough offshore conditions, including high waves, strong winds and a corrosive environment. SolarDuck´s triangular-shaped platform, which has received certification by Bureau Veritas and is designed to float several meters above the water, following the waves like a carpet. The design aims to keep critical electrical components dry, clean and stable, as well as securing the integrity of the semi-submersible structure while enabling safe operations and minimal maintenance.

Sven Utermöhlen, CEO Wind Offshore of RWE Renewables states: “RWE is constantly looking for innovative ways to further improve the production of renewable energy offshore. We are very keen to further explore the potential of offshore floating solar together with our partner SolarDuck. For countries with lower mean wind speeds but high solar irradiation, this opens up attractive opportunities. With the SolarDuck pilot we are gaining experience with a highly innovative offshore floating solar technology. We want to contribute to accelerate the energy transition, have a positive impact on marine ecology and help to integrate energy systems. Together we can make a real difference using tomorrow's technology for today's projects.”

SolarDuck’s CEO Koen Burgers states: “The need for secure, sustainable and affordable energy demands new and immediate answers from the industry in Europe and also globally. SolarDuck is part of this answer, bringing solar energy into its next frontier, the oceans. Showcasing SolarDuck’s robust technology in rough North Sea conditions will enable us to deploy the technology practically anywhere in the world. We are very pleased that we found in RWE a strong partner who shares our vision of electrifying the world with offshore floating solar. I look forward to our organisations working together to achieve just that.”

RWE will invest in SolarDuck’s full-scale offshore pilot called ‘Merganser’ with a nameplate capacity of 0.5 MWp in 2023. ‘Merganser’ is expected to be installed off the coast of Ostend in the Belgian North Sea and will be SolarDuck’s first offshore pilot following the successful deployment of an inland pilot in the Netherlands last year. ‘Merganser’ is aimed to provide RWE and SolarDuck with first-hand experience in offshore environments in the world. These learnings are expected to enable a faster commercialisation of the technology from 2023 onwards.

RWE has therefore selected SolarDuck in its bid for the Dutch tender for HKW VII (system integration). A winning bid will realize the integration of an offshore floating solar plant at pre-commercial scale with 5 MWp combined with innovative energy storage solutions into the offshore wind farm.

Further building on the collaboration with project ‘Merganser’ and HKW, RWE and SolarDuck will explore new opportunities with the objective to develop commercial offshore floating solar parks, both stand-alone and hybrid.