• Contenttype:
    • Icons
  • Themes:
    • Innovation

SolarDuck produces Offshore Floating Solar systems, an innovative solution for creating floating solar parks at sea.

Founder Don Hoogendoorn: “A few years ago, I was still in permanent employment. Three colleagues came up with a plan for floating solar panels, and I couldn’t let go of the idea. We worked in the evenings to develop the idea and set up a solid business case. Then I quit my job and we went all in, because I strongly believe the future lies here!

As a renewable solution, solar energy at sea is a good alternative for countries where there is not much wind and which lack land.

Don Hoogendoorn, SolarDuck

In many sunny countries just not enough space for large solar parks. That problem doesn’t exist at sea. There’s still plenty of space for generating solar energy. We integrate the floating solar panels with the offshore wind farms already at sea. There’s already a ban on ships in these areas, so we can place our solar panels between the wind turbines without too many problems. The floating triangular platforms are linked together, creating floating islands. The platforms ‘carry’ the solar panels several meters above the water and keep them out of the splash zone of the waves. This way, important electrical components remain dry, clean, and stable. Currently, we have a prototype in IJzendoorn, and we are working on an offshore pilot “Merganser” in the North Sea off the coast of The Hague. Additionally, we have started building a project in Tokyo.

Our first office was in Tiel, where investors gave us space in an old school building. But soon we realized that we had to move to the maritime heart of the Netherlands, “Rotterdam.” It’s a central location, and we see that it’s important for attracting personnel. 40 percent of our people come from abroad. Additionally, we have many graduates from TU Delft. You see that the younger generation often doesn’t have a driver’s license or has consciously chosen not to own a car, then it’s nice to be in a city that is easily accessible.

Up!Rotterdam has always supported us. They helped us find suitable locations and introduced us to the right contacts within Rotterdam. It’s all very organic. Additionally, they organize very valuable events like Upstream, where you can gain a lot of knowledge as a (new) entrepreneur.

For new entrepreneurs, I would say: show your dedication, investors value that. That you go all in. And think carefully about who you are going to face the challenge with. It helps if you have different founders with different expertise, so for example, not three founders with a technical background, because then you’ll miss some skills.

As Elon Musk once said: ‘Having a startup feels like eating glass and staring into the abyss.’ It’s tough, making difficult decisions at a high pace, and meanwhile looking forward to the next milestone. But I’m super happy that I took this step, because it’s incredibly cool to build your own company, set up a team, and see your idea grow.”

Meet the Icons

Don Hoogendoorn is one of our Rotterdam Icons. Curious about the other Icons? Click here to meet them!

Share this page