Offshore floating solar platform launched off Dutch coast

The floating offshore solar platform Merganser
"Merganser"SolarDuck

SolarDuck and RWE have installed a 0.5 MWp offshore floating solar platform pilot at the North Sea Farmers offshore test site in the Dutch North Sea

The pilot project aims to test and demonstrate the structural, mooring and electrical designs and acquire knowledge about the manufacturing, assembly, offshore installation and maintenance methodologies required for large-scale commercial deployment of OFPV.

The platform, dubbed "Merganser", has a capacity of 0.5 megawatt peak (MWp) and is located in the Dutch North Sea, approximately 12 kilometres off the coast of Scheveningen. The scalable concept consists of six interconnected platforms that can withstand extreme offshore conditions. The floating platforms were successfully connected to the mooring system in water depth of 20 meters.

“Standalone or also in combination with offshore wind farms, offshore floating solar could open up further offshore renewable energy opportunities – especially for countries with lower average wind speeds but lots of sunlight," commented Sven Utermöhlen, CEO of RWE Offshore Wind. “With Merganser, we are gaining unique insights and first-hand experience in one of the most challenging offshore environments in the world.”

Artist's impression of the Merganser platform
Artist's impression of the Merganser platformSolarDuck

Taking solar farms offshore requires technology that is able to withstand rough offshore conditions. SolarDuck´s triangular-shaped platform is designed to float several meters above the water, following the waves like a carpet. In this way, the design is keeping critical components dry, clean and stable, as well as securing the structural integrity of the semi-submersible floating structure. The design received recently the world’s first certification of its kind by Bureau Veritas.

Over the coming two years, Merganser will be monitored remotely with its more than 180 sensors fitted to monitor structural loads, connector and mooring loads and electrical performance, among other important performance criteria. Next steps include technical and environmental monitoring to further investigate the technology.

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