EU backs project to make case for hybrid offshore wind

Plans to install demonstrators combining offshore wind turbines with floating solar and wave energy off Belgium and Portugal

One of the planned demo projects will pair floating solar with fixed-bottom offshore wind turbines off Belgium's coast (pic: wikimediacommons)

A consortium of research institutions and renewable energy developers, including RWE, EDP, Enel Green Power and the Simply Blue Group, has launched a new €45 million project aiming to pave the way for bankable combined wind, wave and offshore solar systems in Europe.  

Known as the European Scalable Offshore Renewable Energy Sources, or EU-Scores, the project is coordinated by the Dutch Marine Energy Centre (DMEC) and will feature two demonstration projects, both involving offshore wind. 

The first of these to be built consists of a 3MW offshore solar PV system off the Belgian coast co-located with a bottom-fixed offshore wind farm. The second will see a 1.2MW wave energy array co-located with a floating wind farm off Portugal. 

The project will run until August 2025 and is supported by €34.8 million in funding from the European green deal allocated in the last Horizon 2020 call. 

Project participants are aiming to show the benefits of combining different power sources at the same offshore site. These include more consistent power output, a more resilient and stable power system, higher capacity factors and a reduced cost per megawatt hour of generation, also partially due to the sharing of critical electrical infrastructure, they say.  

The demonstration projects will also explore the use of operation and maintenance methods using “innovative autonomous systems” to help further costs. 

EU-Scores expects hybrid projects will also improve the business case for green hydrogen, by allowing a higher utilisation of electrolysers. 

Energy system modelling to quantify the value of the combined offshore energy sources will be led by LUT University. 

The demonstrations are also intended to show that by increasing the power output and capacity installed per square kilometre through hybrid projects, the amount of marine space needed can be reduced, leaving more space for aquaculture, shipping, fishing and environmentally protected zones.    

“For a successful energy transition, we have to move fast without jeopardising the reliability of our electricity grid,” said Benjamin Lehner, project portfolio manager at DMEC.   “EU-Scores can be a gamechanger doing so. The multi-use of offshore space presents a favourable business case with major potential to accelerate the transition, while the hybrid approach will enable more reliable electricity provision.”