Nautical SUNRISE – Survivability assessment, cost reduction pathways and environmental evaluation of offshore installed floating solar energy farms

ProjectPower electronicsSolar Energy

This project will work on the design and testing of a 5 MWp demonstrator of an offshore floating photovoltaic system that will be installed in a wind farm in the Netherlands in 2026. While the Dutch Marine Energy Centre is leading the project, the demonstrator will be provided by SolarDuck. The focus of the EnergyVille partners is on the PV components and the electrical power conversion system, especially with regard to design for reliability.

Europe is currently in a transition away from fossil energy sources towards a fully renewable, reliable, and low-cost energy system by 2050. To achieve this target, large-scale renewable energy projects are essential.

However, the transition is limited by several factors such as onshore space availability to deploy GW-scale projects, supply chain disruptions, and concerns from various stakeholders around visual pollution and space use. Offshore floating PV (OFPV) can deliver hundreds of GW in Europe by 2050 while resolving these challenges. In areas with a fast-expanding offshore wind sector, e.g. the North Sea, OFPV can be combined with wind inside multi-source farms. This enables better utilization of the infrastructure, especially the electrical grid, due to 10…20% more full-load hours, while leaving space for other stakeholders as fewer wind parks and electrical infrastructure are needed for the same amount of electricity production. In parts of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea with low wind resources, also stand-alone OFPV can help to achieve high penetration of renewable energy.

Nautical SUNRISE will remove the last barriers of OFPV to deliver these benefits. A 5 MW grid-connected, multi-year offshore demonstration of a highly competitive OFPV system and its components inside a commercial wind farm will provide the trust needed for the upscaling of the technology. Prior to the demonstration, its technical reliability will be validated in the most extreme conditions through laboratory measurements, wave-wind tank tests, and modelling studies. The cost reduction achieved through design improvements will be quantified in concrete business cases and should enable an LCOE of less than € 148 /MWh, making OFPV financially viable. Additionally, the measurement campaign at the OFPV demonstrator system, large-scale environmental modelling, and life-cycle assessment including circularity will help to understand the overall effect on the environment.

How does EnergyVille contribute to this project?

UHasselt will identify potential failure modes of offshore PV systems and conduct tests for specific ones based on standard procedures adapted to reflect conditions of the offshore environment. In particular, this concerns corrosion and mechanical loads. Effects over the entire lifetime will be simulated, and specifications for the design of components and the operation and maintenance of the system will be derived based on the results. KU Leuven will extend this work to the electrical system and optimize it for efficiency, redundancy and the shielding against the harsh environment. The scope reaches from the interconnection of the solar panels over the power conversion stage to the substation connector.

Partners and funding source

This project is a collaboration between several European partners, KU Leuven and UHasselt, and received funding from Horizon Europe.


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