A consortium of 16 European energy companies and research groups has kicked off a €45m ($53m) project to deliver what it calls ‘world-first’ bankable hybrid offshore marine energy parks that combine offshore wind power with solar and wave energy.

Led by the Dutch Marine Energy Centre (DMEC) and including major utilities such as RWE Renewables, Enel Green Power or EDP’s Labelec unit as well as transitioning oil & gas contractor SBM Offshore, the European SCalable Offshore Renewable Energy Sources (EU-SCORES) project partners will build two demonstration plants.

The first is a 3MW offshore solar system by floating solar outfit Oceans of Energy off the Belgian coast co-located with a bottom-fixed wind farm.

The second is a 1.2MW wave energy array by wave energy developer CorPower Ocean in Portugal co-located with a floating wind farm.

“We are working with strong partners to test how offshore wind farms can in the future be combined with solar and wave energy generation systems on an industrial scale,” said Sven Utermöhlen, chief executive for wind offshore at Germany’s RWE Renewables. “This makes us offshore pioneers.”

RWE next to a financial participation is also contributing know-how and expertise to the Belgian solar-offshore wind hybrid, the company told Recharge.

The consortium that also includes partners from Finland, Sweden, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Portugal and Italy aims at showcasing the benefits of a continuous power output by harnessing the three complementary power sources by 2025.

The hybrid approach will create a more resilient and stable power system, higher capacity factors and a lower total cost per megawatt hour, the group reckons, expecting the project to pave the way for a future large-scale commercialisation of hybrid marine parks.

The EU in its offshore renewable energy strategy launched last year had established a 2050 target of 300GW of offshore wind and 60GW of other ocean energy capacity.

“We have very high expectations from the EU-SCORES project, which perfectly fits with our aim to realise the Green Deal,” said Matthijs Soede, senior policy officer at the European Commission’s directorate general for research.

“They show great ambition by demonstrating different energy sources considering efficient use of the seas and their success will support the clean energy transition.“

The EU supports the project with €34.8m. The demonstration units are intended to prove how the increased power output and capacity installed per square kilometre will reduce the amount of marine space needed, thereby leaving more space for aquaculture, fisheries, shipping routes and environmentally protected zones.

Additional benefits are expected from co-using critical electrical infrastructures and exploring advanced operation and maintenance methodologies supported by innovative autonomous systems, which should also lower the costs per MWh.

The stability and resilience of the European energy system are also slated to be supported by the project.

“For a successful energy transition we have to move fast without jeopardising the reliability of our electricity grid,” said Benjamin Lehner, project portfolio manager at DMEC.

“EU-SCORES can be a game changer doing so. The multi-use of offshore space presents a favourable business case with major potential to accelerate the transition, while the hybrid approach will enable more reliable electricity provision.”