The first-ever 'high wave' solar farm at sea will be built off the Netherlands at the Hollandse Kust Noord (HKN) offshore wind farm, following finalization of a deal between Shell-Eneco consortium CrossWind and technology developer Oceans of Energy.

The “megawatt-scale” floating array, expected to be operational by 2025 at the 759MW wind power developement off Egmond aan Zee, marks a key stride forward for the technology, which has now moved from installations on water reservoirs and inland lakes to ultra-harsh environment offshore sites.

“With offshore solar added to offshore wind it is possible to also produce energy on sunny but less windy days and hence increase the utilization of the offshore power grid infrastructure,” said Allard van Hoeken, CEO of Oceans of Energy.

“The solar panels will be situated in-between the offshore wind turbines, an efficient way of sharing the sea space. CrossWind's Hollandse Kust Noord project is an innovative offshore wind park that will use cutting-edge technologies and engineering solutions to improve the flexibility of offshore wind farms.”

Maria Kalogera, Innovations Manager of CrossWind, said: “Offshore floating solar is an exciting area of renewable energy development that is poised to play an important role in the energy transition. This project marks a significant milestone for our CrossWind innovations team as we continue to push on our commitment to create better energy solutions for the future.”

The HKN offshore solar project, which will be built around a 0.5MW array, claims a number of ‘firsts’, including the maiden outing for a combination of battery storage and round-trip green hydrogen production from offshore renewables at megawatt scale.

Hoeken added:“Theperformance of our system will be key for the success of the innovativel part of the offshore wind farm. This is a large responsibility as HKN will function as an example for combined offshore wind and solar farms in the future.”

Oceans of Energy in 2019 piloted the wave-riding technology with its 0.5MW Zon-op-Zee (Solar-at-Sea) demonstrator, which was engineered to use the sea “directly as support, like a waterlily resting on the water surface”. The array regularly withstood heavy storms, with waves as high as 10 metres during the Ciara bomb cyclone, during its first years of operation.