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“What we’ve done is create a unique design that fuses maritime expertise with solar knowledge,” says Koen Burgers, who is chief executive of the Netherlands-based start-up.

“Our structure is scalable in design: If you need an extra megawatt, we can do that. Our tilted east-west configuration maximizes the solar energy output. Maintenance is low, cleaning is low – if it rains, it cleans. It can be used offshore and in large lakes and reservoirs. And it is friendly to the ecosystem, with light permeating through the structure. We see our solution as an exciting new alternative in sustainable energy generation offshore.”

SolarDuck is constructing four units at Damen Shipyards in the Netherlands for its full-scale pilot. Each unit is placed on floating pillars. In the pilot, the four triangular structures will be flexibly connected somewhat like a jigsaw puzzle, then towed upstream to the project location.

Once at the pilot site on the Waal, a major waterway that connects the port of Rotterdam to Germany, the structure will be linked to an electrolyzer and begin producing hydrogen. It will have 65 kW of power-generating capacity.

Big and wide aluminium profiles

The aluminium-made structure keeps the solar panels and electrical parts more than three meters above water level. Each of its three sides is approximately 16 meters long.

SolarDuck illustration
SolarDuck’s triangular design of the floating structure can handle waves and dynamic loads offshore. (Photo/illustration: SolarDuck)

Its triangular shape helps keep the structure stable and provides the most advantageous ratio between strength versus mass, as compared to other shapes, according to Burgers. He says this enables the platform to better handle heavy waves and hurricane-force winds.

SolarDuck has already filed for two patents and begun collaborations with a number of partners, including Hydro, which is delivering aluminium profiles for the pilot structure from two of its manufacturing plants in the Netherlands, in Lichtervelde and Harderwijk.

“Reducing the weight above the waterline is important, and aluminium was the right material for this application. It also needed to be offshore-grade aluminium, because we are striving to build a platform that stays afloat for 30 years,” says Burgers.

“We look forward to partnering with Hydro to make use of their extensive knowledge regarding aluminium extrusion and construction,” he says, adding that “the potential market is enormous, and by combining strengths we are in a very good position to start developing this market and capturing significant value.”

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