Belgium-based partners Tractebel, DEME and Jan De Nul recently introduced their patent-pending SEAVOLT offshore floating PV technology.
This technology is a result of joint research and development by the partners and Ghent University under the VLAIO-funded (Belgium's Flemish government's Agency for Innovation & Entrepreneurship) research project MPVAQUA (Marine PV Aquaculture) within the frame of Blue Cluster.
SEAVOLT stems from growing land scarcity for solar deployment, combined with the desire for local production without remote transmission and the need for rapid acceleration of the energy transition.
Over the past few years, the complementarity between wind and solar technology has been confirmed worldwide. This results in increasing authorities allowing multi-use concessions, driving comprehensive assessments of technical and environmental site data at many potential offshore wind sites. Meanwhile, the grid infrastructure also shows good potential for combined use.
"In the same way that we have seen wind technology moving from land to the sea, we are seeing the extension of the whole energy system towards offshore locations," said Philippe Van Troeye, CEO of Tractebel.
"Along with offshore green fuel production, offshore energy islands and interconnectors and potential solutions for energy storage, we believe offshore floating PV has an important role to play in the acceleration of the energy transition."
SEAVOLT floating PV technology can withstand harsh offshore conditions while creating large surfaces that are protected from the waves. It utilizes a modular design that easily adapts to different sites and project demands. As a whole, it enables local energy production and the possibility of installing panels in offshore wind farms, adding large volumes of renewable energy in a relatively short time.
A marine floater concept was already developed together with initial research on effects on the marine ecosystem, integration of aquaculture and a financial assessment. Following laboratory testing, the partners are developing an offshore test installation which will be launched off the Belgian coast this summer. Furthermore, parallel studies focusing on the ecosystem, the environment and cost-effectiveness are underway.