HZ conducts research into water quality under floating solar panels

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Floating solar parks are high on the agenda in the Netherlands. However, little is known about its ecological effects. A unique study by HZ University of Applied Sciences on the Oostvoornse Meer should provide answers in the coming year.

Read more about the project

The HZ UAS research is part of a larger research project led by TNO. While the university college takes care of the ecological aspects of underwater life, the maritime knowledge institute MARIN focuses for a year on the robustness of floating systems in waves and strong winds and on the energy yield.


“This pilot is special,” says project leader Wietse van de Lageweg, coordinator team Building with Nature at HZ UAS. “This is one of the first studies into the performance of floating solar panels, linked to the effects on water quality and biodiversity. In addition, we will map out how different user groups feel about floating solar parks. That too has never been done before. ”


The Netherlands still has a lot to do in the field of renewable energy. Floating solar parks can help achieve the climate goals. The National Consortium Zon op Water wants to realize floating systems before 2023 that must generate a yield of 2 gigawatt peak (GWp). In addition, the partnership wants to boost the level of knowledge and Dutch companies in this market.

Three systems

The challenge is great. The platforms must not wash away and must remain intact in a raging sea with high waves. The influence on the quality of the water under the panels also plays a role. In order to do this research, a Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese company will each install a system on the Oostvoornse Meer at Fieldlab Green Economy Westvoorne in the coming weeks. A research cabin with measuring systems and a reference field will be built on the bank.

Opinion about

Before the panels are installed, HZ will start research into the support for sun on water. “Seeing that could influence the opinion of the users,” says Wietse. “We want to prepare a larger survey later. We also include questions about floating panels in the North Sea. The ultimate goal is for policymakers to gain insight into how different people and organizations think about sun on water. ”

Improve installations

The results of the pilot are important for the participating companies to improve their installations. Water boards, governments, knowledge institutes and nature organizations are also interested in the research results. “The ecological research focuses on the light climate, nutrients, the temperature of the water and its influence on the local flora and fauna,” says Wietse. ,, The three installations differ in the way they are designed and therefore in the amount of light that comes through a platform. I expect stratification, so that a warm layer of water is created just below a panel, which is on top of a cooler layer. This phenomenon can lead to problems with water quality. On the other hand, a platform can also positively impact algal blooms, as the panels block some of the light. ”

Coastal challenge

The research project on the Oostvoornse Meer fits in well with the coastal challenge that will start next year at HZ UAS. Students from different directions come together to come up with a solution for a challenge in the delta. “Integrating sustainable energy is such a challenge. This has ecological, social and technical aspects and lies at the interface of water and energy. It is important to introduce students to this because they will have to deal with it in the future. ”

Delta Platform

Delta Platform connects the themes of water and energy and is one of the partners of Fieldlab Green Economy Westvoorne. The Sun on Water research project is a step in the roadmap drawn up by the National Consortium Sun on Water.

This project is made possible in part by the Rabobank stimulation fund and the financial support and active participation of the partners in the project: TNO, Sabic, Equinor and the Energy & Climate Innovation Program, an initiative of the Rotterdam The Hague Metropolitan Area, InnovationQuarter and the province south-Holland.