Fred. Olsen 1848 Launches Rope Mesh-Rigged Floating Solar Array


Published Jun 20, 2023 6:28 PM by The Maritime Executive

Fred. Olsen's future-tech company, Fred. Olsen 1848, has unveiled a new solution for floating solar. Its "Bolette" system moves with the waves on an interconnected rope net, preventing storm damage while generating power from sunshine. 

Wave and wind loads are the biggest challenge for floating solar at sea. These factors are less of a concern for inland waterborne installations, which are already in deployment, but they are a major cost and maintenance consideration for floating solar on the open ocean. 

1848's Bolette system lets the photovoltaic modules (floating solar panels) move independently in a pre-tensioned rope mesh system, distributing the wave forces across multiple mooring lines. It is designed to be inexpensive, scalable and easily built with existing technology, taking advantage of current supply chains for economies of scale. 1848 has also designed a catamaran maintenance boat that can float over rows of panels to clean them and repair them without disturbing the rest of the array. All of the mesh components are tagged for tracking and later recycling. 

"We believe Bolette's elegant simplicity is a game-changer unlocking the potential of floating solar," said Sofie Olsen Jebsen, CEO Fred. Olsen 1848, in a statement Tuesday. 

Final tank testing for the system is already finished and the company will install a pilot plant in Norway this summer. It hopes to scale up from 150 kW to 3 MW by 2024, and to deliver large commercial projects beginning in 2025.

The system's name is also in use in Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines' flagship MV Bolette. The name has been in the family for a long time: ex-chairman Fred. Olsen Junior’s great-great-grandmother Bolette was married to Petter Olsen, one of the original founders of the business.