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DNV unveils its SUNdy floating solar field concept

SUNdy – with a hexagonal array that floats on the sea surface – was officially launched during the Singapore International Energy Week.

A collection of the hexagonal arrays, totaling 4,200 solar panels, forms a solar island the size of a large football stadium, capable of generating around 2 MW of power, according to DNV. When multiple islands are connected together, they can make up a solar field of 50 MW or more.

Bjørn Tore Markussen, COO of DNV KEMA Energy & Sustainability, says he “firmly believes” the SUNdy floating solar field concept offers sound and sustainable development prospects, particularly in Asia and the congested coastal megacities, where there is “limited opportunity for rooftop solar power and urban areas which command premium prices for large-scale mounted solar production.”

“The renewable energy market is rapidly changing due in main part to climate change, soaring global demand for electricity, and scarcity of fossil fuels” he added. “For DNV, technological innovation is a key element in our strategy to help address these concerns and SUNdy, as an example of our research work, can help illustrate future applications for solar as a truly sustainable resource”.

According to Sanjay Kuttan, Managing Director of the DNV Clean Technology Centre in Singapore, the SUNdy concept is made possible using thin-film 560 W solar panels which are flexible and lighter than the traditional rigid glass-based modules, allowing them to undulate with the ocean’s surface explains: “The key to creating an ocean-based structure of this size is the use of a tension-only design” he said. “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.”

The unveiling of the SUNdy concept comes at a time when solar photovoltaics (PV) is experiencing substantial market growth. Almost 30GW of operating capacity has been added, increasing total global capacity by 74% to more than 69GW according to the Renewable Energy Policy Network 2012 report. While the EU again dominated the global market, markets are expanding in other regions, and China has rapidly emerged as the dominant player in Asia. Emerging markets, such as Southeast Asia, are also aiming to grow their renewable energy production with an increased presence in the solar sector.

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