Testing of a floating platform with solar panels at sea | Science and the planet

Seavolt, a partnership between Tractebel, DEME and Jan De Nul, is preparing to install its first floating test stand with solar panels at sea. The platform is currently still in the port of Ostend, but will dock at sea in August.

The facility will collect data on the impact of waves, rain and salt mist on the eight solar panels. “There’s no intention of working on a large scale right now. We basically want to test,” Seavolt says. “The purpose of the test is to determine the level of protection required to protect solar panels from seawater and bird droppings.”

Meanwhile, environmental and economic research continues. SeaVolt is also preparing a large-scale demonstration project on an offshore wind farm. For example, the potential of floating solar panels on an offshore wind farm will be examined. “If all goes well, large-scale marine solar power is expected to become a reality.”

In addition to technical tests, the test installation will also take into account environmental aspects. It is examined whether different materials have any negative effects on the marine environment. The test results will determine the selection of materials for further development of the platform. It is also being examined whether mussel growth and oyster culture can be combined with the platform.

The federal government is providing 2 million euros for the project. “In the second phase, we will issue a large public contract to see what can be developed on a large scale. Therefore, the intention is to also export this product to other countries, among other things,” said North Sea Minister Vincent van Quickenborn (Open VLD). “It is estimated that the first real solar panels at sea will be there by 2025-2026. And when the Princess Elizabeth area opens, solar panels will also be installed there.”

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“Solar energy in the North Sea has the potential to become as important for green energy generation as our wind farms. In order to accelerate the development of offshore solar energy, we are investing through the Recovery Plan in technology and know-how among Belgian players,” adds Minister of State for Recovery Thomas Dermin (PS). “We are focused on three critical challenges at the same time: combating climate change, increasing independence from energy imports, and developing technological expertise in Belgium that will create new jobs and exports.”

Megan Vasquez

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