Transitioning offshore oil industry companies Equinor and Saipem have signed a cooperation deal to develop a floating PV concept for near-coastal sites, adding to the sea-swell of market interest in so-called ‘high-wave’ solar.

The technology, based on a modular design by Moss Maritime, part of Saipem’s new-energy XSight division, aims to build on the “already established solar photovoltaic solutions for calm sea locations [but in areas with] rough weather conditions”.

“This solution has a dual application: it is suitable for areas where there are no large water reservoirs and also for very windy areas,” said Moss Maritime CEO Moss Ida Husem.

“The agreement with Equinor goes in the direction taken by Saipem and Moss Maritime towards the development of new technologies related to clean energy," he said.

“Moss Maritime is constantly looking for opportunities where to apply its expertise in engineering design and services also in the renewable energy sector”.

A 2018 World Bank report on floating solar – which centred on hydropower plant, water reservoir and in-land installations – concluded the potential of the technology “even under conservative assumptions” to be 400GW.

Building out coastal and open-sea sites would create an “enormous” market, said classification body DNV GL recently, as it gave its seal of approval to an innovative large-scale floating solar power technology being developed by Norway’s Ocean Sun .

Though floating solar remains an emerging technology, in-land arrays are being seen as an increasingly attractive option for large-scale PV deployment on reservoirs and alongside hydropower facilities, especially where land is limited.

The largest such project currently is a 150MW development in Anhui, China, but, as Recharge has reported, that is soon set to be overshadowed by massive developments elsewhere in the world, including a 1GW plant in India and an sprawling 2.9GW complex off South Korea .

The world largest floating solar array outside China – BayWa’s 27.4MW Bomhofsplas project in the Netherlands – is slated to be up and running later this month , according to its developer.

Europe has taken strides in the recent months to expand the market for ‘high wave’ floating PV with several projects being developed for open-sea sites.

Developer Oceans of Energy’s Zon-op-Zee (Solar-at-Sea) project, the world’s first offshore solar array, “remained stable and intact” after weathering winds of up to 62 knots and waves over five metres high in the Dutch North Sea during the Ciara bomb cyclone late last year.