Floating solar islands designed to power crowded cities

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Offshore solar farm concept floats ‘spider web’ of thin-film PV panels on sea’s surface to deliver renewable energy to congested coastal megacities.

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Not to be confused with what could be the biggest storm ever to hit the United States, SUNdy – a large-scale offshore solar farm concept by global consultancy and certification firm DNV – was unveiled at Singapore International Energy Week on Thursday last week.

The core feature of the floating solar concept is a hexagonal array of 4,200 solar panels – roughly the size of a football pitch – which floats on the sea’s surface. The ‘solar island’ would be capable of generating 2MW of power, with multiple islands joined together to create an offshore solar field of 50MW or more, producing enough electricity for around 30,000 people.

“The island has been optimised for solar capability and cabling efficiency,” says Kevin Smith, Global Segment Director for DNV KEMA’s Renewable Energy Services. “The solar arrays are divided into electrical zones feeding electricity produced into two main switches collecting the power for voltage step up at a central transformer (2MVA 480/34.5kV). From the offshore solar farm’s central island, 30kV electrical transmission lines connect, tying other islands in series to form a close loop and continue to the electrical sub-station onshore for grid connection.”

Sanjay Kuttan, managing director of the DNV Clean Technology Centre in Singapore says SUNdy’s thin-film 560W solar panels are flexible and lighter most silicon-based modules, allowing them to undulate with the ocean’s surface. “The key to creating an ocean-based structure of this size is the use of a tension-only design. Rather like a spider’s web, this dynamic, compliant structure yields to the waves, yet is capable of withstanding considerable external loads acting upon it.”

Dividing solar arrays into prefabricated sections, says Kuttan, allows for large-scale manufacturing and streamlined offshore assembly. Floating gangways for maintenance access while, below the surface, the island is held together by lengthy spread mooring.

Bjørn Tore Markussen, Chief Operations Officer for DNV KEMA Energy & Sustainability in Asia, says the company firmly believes that the SUNdy floating solar field concept offers “sound and sustainable development prospects.” Particularly so in Asia, he says, “and the congested coastal megacities where there’s limited opportunity for rooftop solar power and urban areas which command premium prices for large-scale mounted solar production.”

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3 Comments
  1. solar sunray 6 years ago

    very unique and innovative..

  2. McMillan 6 years ago

    actually we do not need any kind of government incentives or tax-breaks in order to implement solar panels because everyone can build diy solar panels out of pop-cans and use solar power for as little as $0.1 per watt http://solar.freeonplate.com/diy-how-to/DIY-solar-panels.htm

  3. Minwoo Kim 6 years ago

    The World Goes Solar. Japan’s FiT in July is among the highest in the world. Japan’s FiT is shaking the solar market. Now, Asia has the same options. New solutions will be showed in Japan. This is it!
    As you know, earthquake in Japan is happening frequently. Floating solar panels installation is one of the best solutions for power crisis in Japan. So you have to reduce vibration to install Floating solar panels. Because, it makes many kinds of problems! Vibrations caused by wind, waves and external forces. New Floating Body Stabilizer for Floating solar panels installation has been created in South Korea. The Floating Body Stabilizers generate drag force immediately when Floating solar panels are being rolled and pitched on the water. Recently, these Floating Body Stabilizers have been used to reduce vibration of Floating Solar Panels in South Korea. You can watch New Floating Body Stabilizer videos on YouTube. http://youtu.be/O2oys_YHhCc, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nA_xFp5ktbU&feature=youtu.be.

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