Floating solar can embody an important contribution to the energy transition. In the North Sea, a large area has been earmarked for deploying renewable energy. Initially offshore wind, but between the wind turbines there is sufficient space that has the potential to be used for offshore solar energy. TNO is executing several projects on the technical and economic feasibility of robust offshore floating solar energy systems. Important developments are underway to enable future generation of solar energy on the North Sea.

For TNO, this research is part of a series of activities aimed at using as much of the existing surface area as possible to generate solar energy. This always involves a good balance between maximum yield and integration into the environment, both on land and on water.

Within TNO various areas of expertise and labs contribute to these projects. These include components for offshore solar energy (modules and electronics), complete systems, as well as new measuring methods to investigate systems and components, such as the sensors and power meters with which TNO equips the panels to measure the performance of the modules under various conditions. Amongst other things, this should show the influence of significant fluctuations on the energy yield.

Research into the performance of solar parks at sea

The first floating pontoons of the Oceans of Energy company have now endured storms and high waves at a test site off the coast of Zeeland. This is a first step to demonstrate that offshore solar parks can remain operational in severe weather conditions.

TNO is involved in this project entitled 'Zon op Zee' to investigate the design options and yields of the solar energy system. In this project the maritime research institute MARIN researches the robustness in high waves, initially using scale models in a test basin.

TNO is gathering data over four seasons to be able to evaluate the performance of solar modules at sea. It is also interesting to use these data to compare the yield with that of solar panels on land.

Oceans of Energy will build 1 megawatt (MW) offshore solar off the coast of Scheveningen. In this project, TNO is conducting research into the suitability of solar panels for offshore use and is studying integration in wind farms.

Flexible solar panels at sea testing offshore solar energy

In addition to the approach based on rigid structures, TNO, together with other parties, is investigating a concept based on a flexible structure.

This work is taking place in a project called [email protected]. The basic idea here is to allow the float structure to move optimally with the waves and to apply flexible solar panels in the process.

In this way, we may be able to come up with an alternative solution that can withstand the forces of nature and achieve a high yield. The first trials of this concept on inland waterbodies are promising.

Combination with offshore wind farm

TNO is contributing to the new Hollandse Kust (north) offshore wind farm to be built by the CrossWind consortium, a joint venture between Shell in the Netherlands and Eneco. Together with CrossWind, TNO is working on the research and demonstration of solar energy at sea at this new offshore wind farm.

The Hollandse Kust (North) offshore wind farm is expected to be operational in 2023. The demonstration of offshore solar at this location will be 0.5 MWp and is planned for 2025.

Interested in offshore floating solar panels?

Get in touch with Jan Kroon


Launch of study on new flexible solar energy systems for offshore application

29 November 2021
The companies Bluewater and Genap designed a new, floating flexible solar energy system. This system, consisting of flexible floating units with flexible solar panels mounted on them, has been installed... Read more
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Unique research into floating solar panels

A consortium led by TNO started a research project for floating solar energy systems. Partners are the petrochemical company SABIC, the Norwegian energy company Equinor and the municipality of Westvoorne.... Read more
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Floating solar panels on large inland waterbodies in the Netherlands

Floating solar is expected to make a considerable contribution to the energy transition. Some scenarios predict solar energy capacity of two hundred gigawatt-peak (GWp) in the Netherlands in 2050, 25 GWp... Read more
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Solar farms respecting landscape and nature

In ten years’ time, our country is expected to generate five times as much solar energy compared to 2020. Some scenarios assume that the amount will be almost 20 times as much by 2050, requiring a substantial... Read more
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TNO facilities for research into environmental effects of solar and wind energy

The growth in the amount of solar and wind energy generated onshore and offshore inevitably has an impact on the environment. This may be a positive influence or bear the risk of being negative. For example,... Read more

Dr Jan Kroon

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