Our Maritime Business Magazines


RWE and SolarDuck accelerate technology development and commercialisation of offshore floating solar

SolarDuckRWE and the Dutch-Norwegian company SolarDuck signed a collaboration agreement to develop the use of floating solar parks at sea. To accelerate the learnings on SolarDuck’s floating solar technology, RWE will invest in a first offshore pilot in the North Sea.

The project is a first step in the collaboration and lays the foundation for a larger demonstration project at the Dutch offshore wind farm Hollandse Kust West (HKW). 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. The offshore floating solar technology, as developed by SolarDuck, establishes a new frontier for solar energy and provides an answer to increasing land scarcity for the generation of renewable energy. The integration of offshore floating solar into an offshore wind farm is a more efficient use of ocean space for energy generation (using the space between the wind turbines) and allows for synergies with regards to the construction and maintenance of the multi-source renewable energy plant. The result is a more balanced production profile due to the complementary nature of wind and solar resources.

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 unique, triangular-shaped platform, which has received the world´s first certification for offshore floating solar by Bureau Veritas, is designed to float several meters above the water, following the waves like a carpet. Therefore, keeping 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 says, “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.” To accelerate the development of the technology, RWE will invest in SolarDuck’s full-scale offshore pilot called Merganser with a nameplate capacity of 0.5MWp 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 will provide RWE and SolarDuck with important first-hand experience in one of the most challenging offshore environments in the world. These learnings will enable a faster commercialisation of the technology from 2023 onwards.

SolarDuck’s technology opens a new door for solar energy, also in the harsh North Sea environment. RWE has therefore selected SolarDuck in its bid for the Dutch tender for HKW VII (system integration). A winning bid will realise 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. The combination of RWE’s leading global market position and SolarDuck´s technological and commercial ingenuity sets the perfect base for accelerating the deployment of this high-potential technology.