- Equinor and Moss Maritime will build a pilot offshore floating solar power plant off the island of Frøya in Norway
- The 80m x 80m structure developed by Moss Maritime will be deployed at a height of less than 3 meters over the sea surface
- Project is to be built in late summer of 2021 and studied over at least a year for the energy it produces and how the panels deal with rough weather conditions of the sea
After the measurable success of onshore solar power capacity and growing interest in floating solar power technology, companies are now eyeing the rough seas to explore the potential of offshore floating solar power generation. One such pilot project is announced to come up off the island of Frøya in Trondheim, Norway.
Norway state owned energy company Equinor ASA will build what it terms will become the world’s first pilot plant for floating solar power in rough water, in partnership with engineering company Moss Maritime, part of Italian gas company Saipem. In March 2020, Saipem and Equinor signed a cooperation agreement to develop floating solar panel technology for near coastal applications (see Oil Giants To Explore Floating Solar PV Technology).
Frøya municipality is also an active partner to project planning. In the late summer of 2021, the partners will build the pilot plant at a height of less than 3 meters over the sea surface. It is expected to measure 80m x 80m. Once the installation is complete and the project energized, the pilot will be tested for a minimum period of 1 year.
During the testing period, power generated will be connected to the grid under an agreement with the grid owner. It will be assessed on several parameters including the amount of energy it can produce, and how the weather conditions in the sea can affect its performance.
It depends on approval from the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate though with whom Equinor says it has filed an application.
While Moss Maritime says it has been working on the concept for last 3 years, Equinor shares this is the company’s 3rd offshore floating solar research project. It has already develop a similar project off Sri Lanka where the system is installed in calm waters (see Sri Lanka Gets Country’s First Floating Solar Plant). Another project is being researched in the Netherlands where it has 3 different floating solar power concepts are being tested on a lake.
“We choose to perform several research projects in parallel because of the rapid growth within renewable energy. This enables us to acquire optimal knowledge about this as early as possible,” explained Equinor’s Head of Technology, Hanne Wigum. “If we succeed here, we can succeed anywhere.”
Moss Maritime’s Vice President, Engineering, Alexander Thøgersen believes the Norwegian project can open up possibilities to commercialization of the technology while also paving the way for its further development and optimization.
Equinor added that beyond these research projects, the company has not made any decision on the production of power from floating PV technology.
In November 2018, Singapore’s Sunseap Group announced a 5 MW pilot offshore floating PV project along the straits of Johor calling it the world’s first and largest sea water floating PV system (see 5 MW Offshore Floating PV Project In SE Asia).