Floating solar pilot project near Canary Islands to face up to 10m-high waves

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A previous floating solar test system installed by Ocean Sun off the coast of Norway. Image: Ocean Sun.

European Union funding has been secured for a floating solar pilot project in Spain to explore how the technology performs in challenging sea conditions.

A consortium including Ocean Sun and Fred Olsen Renewables will develop the 250kWp floating PV unit off the coast of Gran Canaria, which the partners say is the sunniest part of Europe.

Ocean Sun’s technology is based on a thin polymer membrane that is used to mount PV modules. With waves of up to 10 metres and high winds, the pilot project is an excellent opportunity to explore the outer limits of the floating technology, Ocean Sun said.

Following the installation, all aspects of the system will be analysed and a plan for further commercialisation and large-scale deployments will be developed. The project will also serve to certify Ocean Sun’s floating solar technology for offshore applications in non-sheltered locations.

The pilot has a duration of 30 months and a €4 million budget, which has been provided under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. Other partners in the consortium include engineering firm Innosea, the Technological Institute of the Canary Islands and the Oceanic Platform of the Canary Islands.

Rolf Benjamin Johansen, director of floating solar at Fred Olsen Renewables, said the plant will give the company “valuable insights” for future commercial offshore and nearshore floating parks. The renewables developer last year signed a floating PV research agreement with the Solar Energy Institute of Singapore and is now investigating sites for commercial projects.

The potential for developing offshore floating solar projects in difficult weather conditions will also be explored through a pilot project in Norway announced last week by Equinor. Set to be installed later this year, the plant will sit 3 metres above the sea surface and supply electricity to the power grid on the island of Frøya.

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