A pilot project in the waters off China, featuring two floating solar power arrays connected to a transformer on a moored offshore wind turbine, will test the viability of the technology in an area prone to typhoons.
China’s government-owned State Power Investment Corporation (SPIC) on Nov. 1 announced it had commissioned the project, calling it the world’s first commercial offshore floating solar array paired with an offshore wind turbine. The installation is located off the coast of Haiyang, in Shandong Province in eastern China.
Norway-based Ocean Sun provided the floating solar power technology for the project. The two solar arrays have peak generation capacity of 0.5 MW. The solar floaters are connected to the SPIC-owned wind turbine, and a subsea cable moves power from the site to the onshore power grid.
Ocean Sun, which signed an agreement in July to provide its technology for the project, called the set-up its first “truly offshore installation.” SPIC is providing all the funding for the project.
Børge Bjørneklett, CEO and founder of Ocean Sun, in a statement said: “This is a true milestone for Ocean Sun, and for the floating solar industry. The successful project funded by SPIC and constructed using the Ocean Sun solution shows how the common goal of reducing greenhouse CO2 emissions will be achieved with development across borders. We are excited to continue working closely with SPIC through the Ocean Sun team based in China.”
Bjørneklett earlier this year said Shandong Province could install as much as 42 GW of floating solar installations in the next few years, with Ocean Sun bidding for some of those projects. He acknowledged that “These waters see challenging annual typhoons, and all involved parties are aware of the risks. Ocean Sun will improve our product with learnings from this [first] exposed site.”
Ocean Sun said the “successful implementation” of this first project could provide a model for hybrid offshore power plants, increasing generation efficiency by combining wind and solar, and reducing the levelized cost of electricity. The company said if the pilot is successful, there is a plan to build a 20-MW floating wind-solar farm next year that would use Ocean Sun’s technology.
—Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).