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After Four North Sea Winters, Floating Solar Power System Wins AIP

Floating solar panel array in the sunset
Oceans of Energy's prototype off the coast of the Netherlands (Oceans of Energy)

Published Jan 12, 2023 5:53 PM by The Maritime Executive

Oceans of Energy, the Dutch developer of a floating solar farm system for rough seas, has won approval in principle (AIP) from Bureau Veritas for their unique system design.

Oceans of Energy's solar farm floats directly on the water, without heavy steel framing or support structures, and it has flexible elements that allow it to move with the waves. Though not as indestructable in appearance as a conventional offshore platform, it has proven robust in testing. A grid-connected prototype was installed off Scheveningen in the Dutch North Sea in 2019, and it has withstood nearly four winter seasons of the toughest conditions that the region has to offer, including Storm Eunice in February 2022 - one of the five biggest North Sea storms in the last 50 years. 

The current prototype has a capacity of about 0.5 megawatts, or five percent of a conventional offshore wind turbine. It is designed to take waves of up to 45 feet and has survived real-world wave conditions exceeding 30 feet. 

The newly-announced AIP covers all aspects of the system, including the design, floats, panel mounts and mooring system. The evaluation drew on the years of data gathered from the North Sea prototype.

“Oceans of Energy is very proud to receive this Approval in Principle as we realize it is a testimony of sound engineering, a feasible and sound concept choice and a recognition as a leading technology with a promising future,” said Allard van Hoeken, founder and CEO of Oceans of Energy. “It is of great reassurance to our stakeholders that the design of the floating farm and mooring system have been reviewed and approved by Bureau Veritas.”

For its next steps, Oceans of Energy plans to expand its prototype to 1.0 MW of capacity. The company is also putting about $1 million into environmental monitoring to evaluate the impact of its installation. 

In addition, the company is a partner in the EU-SCORES connected offshore energy project, which will pair offshore solar with offshore wind in the same development. The idea is to maximize the efficiency of offshore energy development by installing multiple sources of power in the same place, with the goal of achieving levelized cost of energy of about $55 per MWh. For Oceans of Energy's part of the trial, a 3.0 MW grid-connected offshore floating solar power system will be installed in between wind turbines off the coast of Belgium, with deployment scheduled for 2023.