According to IRENA, floating solar is an emerging market with a high potential for rapid growth. This is conventional freshwater floating PV. Seawater floating PV on the other hand is an entirely new, emerging, market with ocean solutions largely still in the development phase.
The freshwater solutions are normally designed for deployment on calm waters like lakes or reservoirs. They can also be built in harbours or protected bays if the chosen material is salt water-resistant. Nevertheless, these systems are not safe against de facto any maritime location, not even in the Adriatic Sea, the Arabian Sea, or an enormous lake, due to the regular extreme events with high waves and/or wind. As the possibility of extreme weather events rises, these systems are in danger of failing. Depending on the extent of damage, consequences will range from loss of revenue up to a complete loss of investment. Therefore, current freshwater solutions face restrictions in deployments at sea, partly even in protected coastal areas and big lakes.
According to a study by NREL the energy potential of floating PV on hydropower reservoirs is estimated to 7.6 TW (NREL, 2020). The worldwide potential of seawater floating PV is, according to IRENA, not estimated yet. Flexible and uprising stiff seawater FPV systems are being developed and tested in protected areas and current studies and market growth numbers show that seawater FPV has great potential to contribute to the blue economy.
SINN Power has developed a seaworthy solution called the Ocean Hybrid Platform (OHP) which combines wave, wind and solar energy harvesting. The company says it is suitable for nearshore and offshore applications and ready for reliable and economical operations.
The Ocean Hybrid Platform, is designed for unprotected maritime environments with a significant wave height of 12 m and wind speeds of 27 m/s without taking any damage (limited by the PV-cells). The floating structure itself survives wind speeds of up to 60 m/s. In addition, the OHP is designed maintenance free, a crucial factor in the financial performance of RE systems, and deployable in areas where current solutions are unsuitable. That opens completely new areas of applications for the RE market, including small, medium, and large-scale deployments in nearshore and offshore environments.
“Our approach to design a durable and long-living platform for renewable energy production in the maritime environment will drastically change the RE ecosystem” said Dr. Ing Philipp, CEO, SINN Power. “Potential use cases for project developers include the complementation of offshore wind parks to increase baseload capacity, providing RE to aquacultures, the hydrogen production, or simply producing electricity for coastal areas, remote islands, and many more.”
SINN Power has successfully carried out real-life tests in Heraklion and actively markets its innovative solution to project developers worldwide. In addition to the necessary hardware, including IP68-protected, smart-grid forming power electronics for floating hybrid systems, the company offers a wide range of engineering, procurement, and installation services, including operation and maintenance following the requirements of the respective customers.
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