NL - SolarDuck and partners awarded DEI subsidy to build and test Offshore Floating Solar platform ‘Merganser’

€ 7.8m DEI+ subsidy to fund full-scope research programme, incl. solar platform integration in North Sea offshore wind farms

Dutch Offshore Floating Solar (OFS) consortium Merganser has received a 7.8m EUR project subsidy from RVO (Netherlands Enterprise Agency) to develop, test and validate the Merganser solar energy platform in harsh North Sea weather conditions. OFS company SolarDuck and marine research institutes TU Delft, TNO, MARIN and Deltares aim to prove that the new installation can accelerate and scale up the energy transition through marine solar energy, solving the problem of limited available land space at the same time. In the pilot, the six linked OFS platforms will deliver 500 KWp.

Global annual electricity consumption is expected to double to about 42,000 TWh by 2050. In addition, climate change and environmental degradation are major challenges for coastal communities around the world, incl. the Netherlands and its energy supply. Due to technical developments and limited space on land, the exponentially growing solar market is moving offshore, partly initiated by the forerunners of the Merganser consortium, who now move forward together.

The pilot project is executed under the assumption that the installed capacity of ocean energy systems needs to speed up to meet both national and international climate and energy supply goals. The project also adheres to the United Nations' goal of moving from negotiations and planning to implementation, as stated by COP27 (the 27th Climate Change Conference under Egypt's presidency).

DEI+ The Demonstration Energy & Climate Innovation (DEI+) subsidy is a Dutch governmental programme for new projects and innovations aimed at reducing energy consumption and harmful emissions, manufacturing based on recycling and more. It is a result of the Paris Climate Agreement and recognises that its goals can be brought about by innovative demonstration projects.

The Merganser project aims to prove just that by showing the practical and strategic advantages of offshore photovoltaic energy solutions. Advantages of OFS Perhaps the biggest advantage of floating solar applications is the availability of many square miles of space, something that both in the Netherlands and in coastal megacities across the globe is in short supply. An additional promising feat is that they can be installed safely in between existing offshore wind turbines and could be built anywhere with ‘pop-up' assembly lines.

These (and more) assumptions will be tested and monitored as well by the consortium. Yet another advantage is energy supply stability. For example, the Dutch regular grid is close to reaching its limits. Knowing that Offshore Wind only uses about 50% of the (Dutch) North Sea's export cable means that here is a huge opportunity to complement electricity supply by means of solar power. The Merganser is a prototype installation capable of generating 500 kWp of renewable energy at sea.

This new and scalable concept includes six interconnected platforms that can withstand extreme offshore conditions. The consortium will use the 7.8m EUR subsidy to get Merganser built, waterborne and tested offshore in the North Sea. Last but not least, when the project delivers the expected results, it can easily be upgraded to gigawatt scale, making it ideal for coastal (mega)cities' energy needs.

Scope of work

The total scope of work is huge. SolarDuck will take on project management, develop the final technical specifications of Merganser and provide technical support for the partnering knowledge institutes. In addition, the consortium will develop the requirements for a commercial-sized project of at least 5 MWp.

To that end, containerization and pop-up assembly concepts will be designed to arrange for efficient transport and local construction of future Merganser units.

Read more.