PLOCAN presents BOOST in La Palma, the largest floating offshore solar energy system in Europe

The floating solar power plant prototype will produce around half a gigawatt hour, the equivalent of the consumption of 100 families

The initiative positions the port of Tazacorte as a centre of innovation in port decarbonizing in the Canary Islands and the island as a reference in the transition towards energy sustainability in Europe

The Oceanic Platform of the Canary Islands (PLOCAN) presented the prototype of the floating photovoltaic solar power plant of the BOOST project (Bringing the sun from ocean waters to the global market) in the waters of the port of Tazacorte, in the West of the island of La Palma, together with the members of the project consortium. The project has an estimated cost of €4,007,105, financed with €2,919,449 by the European Union, within the H2020 program. “It is the largest floating solar energy system successfully deployed in the ocean in all of Europe, composed of 836 solar panels of 1.7 square meters that will provide energy (almost half a gigawatt hour) to the facilities of the Acuipalma fish farm, with the intention to expand to other port uses,” declared Joaquín Hernández, director of PLOCAN.

The inauguration of the floating photovoltaic plant was attended by the Minister of the Presidency, Public Administrations, Justice and Security of the Government of the Canary Islands, Nieves Lady Barreto; the Minister of Ecological Transition and Energy of the Government of the Canary Islands, Mariano Hernández Zapata; the Coasts and Management of the Canarian Maritime Space General Director, Antonio Acosta; Minister of Industry and Energy of the Cabildo of La Palma, Fernando González and the Mayor of the Tazacorte City Council, Manuel González, among other authorities.

During the official presentation, the representative of the regional government highlighted the crucial role of the Canarian ports in the decarbonizing strategy, while “the coast of Tazacorte will serve as a pilot test of what could be the beginning of the path towards neutralizing the carbon footprint thanks to the use of energy from renewable sources such as solar energy,” explained Nieves Lady Barreto. According to the Minister of the Presidency, “we must be grateful that, after the volcano, entities like PLOCAN continue to do more work in La Palma with unique and pioneering projects that make us an attractive centre for science, technology and innovation”.

In this sense, BOOST represents a fundamental step in the transition towards energy sustainability. “This project is crucial to advance the penetration of renewable energies in the archipelago, investment in scientific advances that allow the implementation of innovative projects is essential to advance the transition towards the sustainability model that we seek for the Canary Islands,” said Mariano H. Zapata, who firmly believes that “in La Palma you can innovate, this is a clear example that we must thank PLOCAN, it is a real marine solar energy solution that has our full support.”

In fact, this platform has advantages such as the absence of noise, very low visual impact and is very cheap to produce. “It is a pride as the Department of Public Works, both in the General Directorate of Coasts and in Canary Islands, to present a project that has both a scientific and technological background and a future for La Palma and the Canary Islands. We will bet with PLOCAN on similar projects, starting from of the Port of Tazacorte as a pilot test,” said Antonio Acosta. In his words, this “would not be possible without the collaboration of Acuipalma and the support of Puertos Canarios and the island council, among other entities.

Specifically, the platform generates around 440,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year, almost half a gigawatt hour (GWh) per year, which could mean that “100 families would have free electricity throughout the year, even recharging their electric car with just a platform like this”, clarified the Minister of Industry and Energy of the island council. “It is a unique opportunity in Europe to see a project of this magnitude that comes to improve and complement the energy supply, having a rate of return that is optimal for sustainable development, which is why it has our full support,” added Fernando González.

Additionally, the representative of the municipal corporation noted the importance of this project to advance with decarbonizing this island, “being proud that it is installed in the Port of Tazacorte.” In addition, he highlighted the commitment that the local government group has to continue working on the protection and care of the environment while “making the port and the municipality a centre of technological innovation in the marine-maritime field,” said Manuel González.

The blue economy as an engine to diversify the economy and mitigate climate change

According to the director of PLOCAN, Joaquín Hernández, the BOOST project in the Canary Islands symbolizes “a significant advance in the sustainable use of our marine and maritime resources, demonstrating how innovation and collaboration can offer effective solutions to global challenges such as climate change and energy transformation”. In his opinion, this is just the beginning of what could be exported to other islands or abroad, in addition to being an example and opportunity for technological development for the island and for the Canary Islands.

For the Department of Universities, Science and Innovation and Culture “it is a driving project that will diversify the Canary Islands economy as a whole, also reaching the non-capital islands,” argued Javier Roo, head of R&D&i at the Canarian Research Innovation and Information Society Agency (ACIISI). “The blue economy industry is a driver of this change and this project is an example that unites private investment, research centres and public entities, La Palma is a clear example of an R&D&I ecosystem”, said Roo.

“A cost-effective solution for floating solar photovoltaic technology in coastal areas”

This prototype is the most technologically developed and an example of how we can use the sea’s unlimited solar resources. “The successful performance of the special membrane solution implemented that withstands storms and waves of several meters high in these waters will pave the way for an abundant supply of affordable renewable energy,” said Børge Bjørneklett, CEO and founder of Ocean Sun.

The prototype is the final milestone of an exhaustive three-year R&D project. Rolf Benjamin Johansen, representative of Fred Olsen Renewables, expressed his satisfaction at “seeing that this achievement demonstrates that a cost-effective solution for floating solar photovoltaic technology in coastal areas is possible, with great potential to produce energy worldwide.”

The European BOOST project has strategic partners in France, Norway and Spain. Representing the European consortium, coordinated by the Norwegian company Ocean Sun, are key partners such as the French consulting firm Innosea or Fred Olsen Renewables from Norway, which currently operates wind farms in Scotland, Norway and Sweden. Specifically, in the Canary Islands, the consortium has PLOCAN and the Canary Islands Technological Institute (ITC).

Solar photovoltaics, the fastest growing technology in the world

Solar PV has become the world’s fastest growing energy technology, with the annual global market surpassing the 100 gigawatt (GW) level for the first time in 2018 and accumulative capacity reaching 583.5 GW in 2019. Marine floating photovoltaic plants are still in a nascent stage due to the challenges posed by open sea conditions.

BOOST addresses these challenges with a new floating PV plant system inspired in part by floating and mooring technology that has been used for 20 years in Norwegian waters by the fish farming industry. “This flotation and mooring technology is combined with a patented disruptive floating hydroelastic membrane that is attached to an outer perimeter of floating tubing so that the float will not be dragged by the mooring, even in strong currents, winds and waves,” concluded Børge. Bjørneklett, CEO of Ocean Sun.

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