A pioneering developer of offshore solar farms said a proposed Dutch government target to build 3GW off its coast by the end of the decade is a “gamechanger” for the fledgling industry.
The Netherlands included the offshore goal as part of a €28bn ($31bn) package of climate measures designed to propel the nation to its 2030 targets.
The Dutch government will include North Sea solar as part of future offshore wind tenders, said the draft package, with the PV arrays deployed between turbines and an allocation of €44.5m to underpin the deployment plans.
Dries Acke, policy director at industry body SolarPower Europe said: "This is the first offshore solar target that we've seen.
"We know solar and wind are good complements. When the sun doesn't shine, the wind is often blowing, and vice versa, so it makes sense to be expanding solar to the offshore regions.
"It also shows how quickly the solar landscape is moving, a few years ago the concept of offshore floating solar seemed like science fiction, now we're seeing the technology coming into maturity and offering real solutions."
Allard van Hoeken, CEO and founder of Oceans of Energy – which has just agreed a deal for what’s claimed as a world-first ‘high wave’ solar farm deployment at the planned Shell-led Hollandse Kust Noord (HKN) wind farm in Dutch waters – told Recharge: "The leadership that the Dutch Government is demonstrating with these measures for the rollout of offshore solar energy within wind farms and associated environmental research is a gamechanger for the renewable energy transition.”
The “megawatt scale” HKN offshore solar project, will claim a number of firsts, including the debut outing for a combination of battery storage and round-trip green hydrogen production from offshore renewables at megawatt scale.
Oceans of Energy is one of a clutch of systems aiming to take PV out to sea with wind, adding to the growing boom in deployment of floating solar on lakes, reservoirs and other inland water surfaces.
Other contenders include SolarDuck, the Dutch-Norwegian firm planning North Sea arrays of its own with RWE, and contractor heavyweights DEME, Tractebel and Jan De Nul, which are aiming for a first pilot outing for their Seavolt system off the coast of Belgium this summer.
SolarDuck chief commercial officer Francisco Vozza said: "While the Netherlands is clearly positioning itself as a global front runner in scaling hybrid OFS applications, other geographies are also taking due notice – Italy, Greece, Japan and the US, to name a few – and evaluating the potential and relevant regulatory frameworks.
"The ocean space represents the next frontier for solar PV, which is the world’s most available and affordable source of renewable energy."
Expert commentators have, however, warned of significant challenges facing solar operating in harsh marine environments.
A report published in 2022 for Netherlands Enterprise Agency RVO highlighted “significant technological hurdles” for offshore PV, including fouling and degradation of panels, and specific grid integration issues.