Both Dutch and Belgian initiators will soon experiment with floating solar modules in the North Sea. According to Allard Van Hoeken (Oceans of Eenrgy) offshore solar energy will eventually become cheaper than offshore wind energy.
First of all, a number of technological challenges need to be overcome. “At sea you have to deal with salt water, high waves and harsh natural conditions”, Van Hoeken acknowledges in Solar Magazine. “The growth of algae can also cause problems and is one of the biggest challenges. We anticipate that all these problems are solvable.”
At the moment, wind energy at sea is still ahead of solar energy. “I expect offshore sun to go through a similar learning curve as offshore wind”, Van Hoeken responds. “My expectation is that sun at sea will become cheaper than wind at sea. When that moment exactly arrives will depend largely on the speed at which the roll-out takes place.”
The fact that the sun will eventually be cheaper than wind at sea is entirely logical for Van Hoeken. “Solar modules have the great advantage that they have no moving parts, which means that operating costs are much lower than for windmills. Moreover, maintenance of windmills needs to take place much more frequently, but also at high altitudes.”