Norwegian energy giant Statkraft has launched construction of a floating PV pilot in Albania, linked to its Banja hydropower station in the southern European country.
Designed by compatriot Ocean Sun, the 2MW array will be built on the 72MW plant’s reservoir at a cost €2m, with switch-on of a first stay expected in the fourth quarter.
“Now that all regulatory approvals are in place, we have issued a notice to proceed to Ocean Sun for implementing the first phase of the project,” said Statkraft’s head advisor for asset management Tom Kristian Larsen. “We look forward to start construction by the end of June”.
In this first phase, Ocean Sun will deliver a complete floating 0.5MWp direct current system based on its innovative design for floating solar technology. A second phase of the project would add additional three more same-size units in 2021.
Ocean Sun CEO Børge Bjørneklett said: “The project represents the first sizable installation in the south of Europe and a milestone in our pursuit of clean and affordable energy from floating solar power globally.”
Floating solar has taken up a key place in Statkraft’s power portfolio as the Norwegian state-owned hydropower company shapes its energy transition, recently naming Birgitte Ringstad Vartdal to the post of executive vice president of its European wind and solar business.
A 2018 World Bank report on floating solar – which centred on hydropower plant, water reservoir and in-land installations – concluded the potential of the technology “even under conservative assumptions” to be 400GW. With coastal and open-sea build-out, the market would be “enormous”, said DNV GL.
Though floating solar remains an emerging technology, in-land arrays are being seen as an increasingly attractive option for large-scale PV deployment on reservoirs and alongside hydropower facilities, especially where land is limited.
The largest such project currently is a 150MW development in Anhui, China, but, as Recharge has reported, that is soon set to be overshadowed by massive developments elsewhere in the world, including a 1GW plant in India and an sprawling 2.9GW complex off South Korea .
Europe has taken strides in the recent months to expand the market for ‘high wave’ floating PV with several projects being developed for open-sea sites.
Developer Oceans of Energy’s Zon-op-Zee (Solar-at-Sea) project, the world’s first offshore solar array, “remained stable and intact” after weathering winds of up to 62 knots and waves over five metres high in the Dutch North Sea during the Ciara bomb cyclone late last year.
DNV GL’s Energy Transition Outlook revealed that society would need to grow solar power by more than ten times to 5TW in order to close the emissions gap, the difference between the forecast rate at which our energy system is decarbonising and the pace we need to reach, to limit global warming to well below 2°C as set out by the Paris Agreement.