The Netherlands offshore solar farm, similar to the Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Power Plant in Japan (shown), will help the Dutch cut their fossil fuel use and meet their GHG emissions targets.  Kyocera Corporation photo.

Netherlands offshore solar farm pilot project to begin operating this summer

By 2021, the Netherlands offshore solar farm could provide clean energy to the European country which is struggling to cut its fossil fuel use to meet its greenhouse gas emissions targets.

This year, six companies and research institutes will operate a pilot project comprised of 30 square metres of panels located about 15 kilometres off the coast of The Hague, in the North Sea.

The pilot will test equipment, weather conditions and environmental impact of the offshore solar farm.

“Solar farms are already being deployed at inshore water bodies such as lakes, but a project at sea has never been done before as this is much more challenging,” said Allard van Hoeken, founder and CEO of leading party Oceans of Energy.  He added “the destructive wind- and wave forces at sea cause others to withhold.”

The solar panels will be more rugged than onshore models so they can endure the harsher weather conditions and tidal shifts at sea, according to Wilfried van Sark of Utrecht University.

Utrecht University will compare the energy output of the Netherlands offshore solar farm to that of an onshore solar project.  Officials expect the power yield of photovoltaic solar modules at sea to be about 15 per cent higher compared to that of onshore solar farms.

Van Sark said “there is more sun at sea and there is the added benefit of a cooling system for the panels”.

The offshore solar panels will be moored between existing wind turbines and will be connected to the same cables which already transport energy to the mainland from the at sea wind farms.

Solar power at sea does not use scarce land space and could cost less due to a lack of land costs.  The Netherlands is currently the world’s second-largest exporter of food in the world behind the United States, making land an invaluable commodity in the small European country.

In the Dutch National Solar Trendreport 2018 estimates that solar energy can contribute to 75 per cent of the Dutch energy supply.

By 2021, the group hopes to have the project complete with 2,500 square miles of floating storage solar panels in place.

If successful, the Netherlands offshore solar project could be a “solution for the entire world, as the majority  of the earth’s population is concentrated in coastal regions,” says van Hoeken.