Today’s Solutions: June 15, 2024

As the threat of climate change intensifies, countries are beginning to take a serious look at the logistics of stepping away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy sources. Building offshore renewable energy infrastructure is a key aspect of this transition, and engineers are now working to build structures that can withstand the strong forces of the ocean.

With that in mind, Dutch offshore solar energy company SolarDuck has built a new solar power platform that can withstand waves of up to 10 ft (3 m) high. Called the “Demonstrator,” the structure was recently towed upriver in the Netherlands to simulate some of the wind and water stresses of being out at the open sea, and the results were promising.

While the main aim is to install the platform in cities and islands near to the equator — where there’s lots of sunshine and little wind — the company’s CTO, Don Hoogendoorn, explained in an interview with Interesting Engineering how SolarDuck’s next version of the Demonstrator “can withstand hurricane forces” experienced in and around Bermuda and Florida

Featuring an adaptable triangular shape, SolarDuck’s floating solar structure was designed to be able to handle coastal sea conditions and hurricane winds but also optimized for natural harbors, estuaries, and other near-shore regions. These features are particularly important in many places around the world, including land-scarce Singapore, where the lack of available land for building renewable energy infrastructure is a primary concern.

SolarDuck is now working on making the Demonstrator 13 times bigger to enable it to generate as much electricity as offshore fixed wind turbines, while also making it more resistant in the face of intensifying weather conditions associated with climate change. It may take a while until such floating solar structures become widespread across the globe, but in the coming years, they can offer coastal cities a new way to significantly boost their green energy production.

Image source: SolarDuck

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