What’s being claimed as the world’s largest hybrid offshore floating solar plant so far is set to hit the North Sea in 2026, said technology pioneer SolarDuck as it geared up to join a massive wind farm in the waters off the Netherlands.

SolarDuck will build a 5MW demonstration floating PV project with integrated energy storage as part of RWE’s 760MW Hollandse Kust West wind farm, which on Thursday got the nod from the Dutch government as winner of its latest national tender.

SolarDuck’s system formed part of the RWE bid and the Dutch-Norwegian group is now all set to proceed with the North Sea project that it labelled “a flagship project for SolarDuck and an important milestone for the wider offshore floating solar industry”.

CEO Koen Burgers said the 5MW plant aims to “demonstrate the robustness of our solution, prove the important role of system integration in building future-fit energy systems, and enable the scaling of the technology to accelerate its adoption”.

Linking offshore wind and floating solar is seen as a potential key addition to the arsenal of generation technologies deployable at sea, replicating efforts to match the complementary nature of turbines and PV modules that is driving hybrid development onshore.

RWE and SolarDuck are already working together on a smaller pilot project called ‘Merganser’ to be built in 2023 off the Belgian city of Ostend.

While deployment of floating PV on inland surfaces such as lakes and reservoirs is already booming, placing solar at sea presents a new level of challenge due to the harsh conditions facing equipment offshore.

China recently claimed a first when it linked two 0.5MW floating PV arrays with a single offshore wind turbine in the seas off Shandong province.

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