Looking back on an interactive Blue Session Offshore Floating Solar

Blue Cluster is convinced that innovation can be fostered by enabling very diverse actors to exchange ideas around a central theme. That is why we organise Blue Sessions for our members and partners on a regular basis.
16 February 2024

On 8 February, a number of major players in the Flemish-Dutch energy landscape presented various to-the-point presentations on Offshore Floating Solar in Ostend. More than 80 participants attended the event. During this productive day, we identified several challenges and opportunities for the future.

A report of this inspiring Blue Session can be found below.

Setting the scene

The Blue Session started with a dive into current market trends and the scientific state of affairs surrounding offshore floating solar. A comparison with the evolution of the (offshore) wind energy sector shows that there is a lot of market potential in floating solar. For example, the levelised cost of energy (LCOE) currently amounts to €350/MWh, but is expected to evolve to €50-70/MWh by 2033.

Science supports the further breakthrough of offshore solar by researching parameters that influence energy yield, such as the movement of waves and the shadow of wind turbines. Measurements indicate a striking complementarity with wind energy. On average, windy days occur more often in autumn and winter, and the sun shines mainly on low-wind days. This offers opportunities for multi-use and therefore cost savings.

Just as onshore wind has laid a foundation for offshore wind, a lot of knowledge and inspiration can also be gained from the experience of onshore solar. Much research is also being done into the ecological effects, such as the interaction of anchor systems with the bottom and the effect on the attraction of species. Nature inclusive design can be part of the solution here.

Flanders boasts a lot of test infrastructure to take floating solar to a higher level. In the Coastal & Ocean Basin, you can conduct scale tests in a wave tank. An integrated camera system monitors all movements and effects. The Blue Accelerator furthermore offers a plug & play environment at sea where tests can be scheduled and rolled out more quickly.

One of the objectives of the National Energy and Climate Plan for 2021-2030 is to generate 1 GW of offshore floating solar. To achieve this, the government will issue a tender for a demonstration on a MW scale. The preparatory work for that tender is already underway.

Workshop on technical challenges

It was hard work during the afternoon workshop. The participants divided into small groups and worked on specific challenges. The group work resulted in 12 different project ideas.

In the coming period, Blue Cluster will map out a follow-up process to continue working on these ideas together with our members and partners. Are you interested in contributing to this process? Please contact Stefaan Mensaert

The most important takeaway from this interesting Blue Session: floating solar is clearly on its way to becoming a game changer.

Acknowledgements and preview

We would like to thank all participants for sharing their experiences, insights and knowledge with us and with each other. We are particularly grateful to all speakers for their cooperation in this successful event and their relevant substantive contributions.

We would also like to invite you to add the following event to your agenda:

Presentations and debates on the implications and opportunities of multi-source energy parks
Stakeholder event on 2 July 2024 in Ostend

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