Equinor has announced plans to broaden its renewables offering by piloting a floating offshore solar plant off the Norwegian coast.
The Stavanger-headquartered energy giant, together with Moss Maritime, expects to deploy the test project off the island Frøya, near Tronheim, in late summer.
According to Equinor, it will be the world’s first pilot plant for floating solar power in rough waters.
It is already involved in a similar project in the Netherlands where three different floating solar power concepts are being tested on a lake.
An application for the North Sea development has already been lodged with the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate.
Planned to measure 80 meters x 80 metres, the plant will tower less than 3 metres over the surface of the water and will be tested for a minimum of one year.
The purpose of the pilot is as much to analyse the effect of weather conditions as it to see how much energy can be produced.
Hannah Wigum, head of Equinor’s technology unit, claimed that, due to the North Sea’s relative lack of sun and rough waters, if the project is a success it will be able to be deployed anywhere.
She said: “The municipality of Frøya has been a good collaboration partner for us. We have reached an agreement with the grid owner, allowing the electricity that is produced to enter the power grid on Frøya.
“In addition, the nearness to our research centre in Trondheim, and the expertise possessed by the Sintef and NTNU research institutions, represent an advantage for us.”
Kristin Furunes Strømskag, mayor of Frøya, added: “It is very exciting that Frøya has been chosen as the host municipality for the testing of new renewable energy sources, such as solar power.
“With our natural conditions, we are a good location for a full-scale pilot plant within research and development.”
Alexander Thøgersen, vice president, engineering, at Moss Maritime, said: “We have been working on this concept for the past three years, most recently through our partnership with Equinor, and the concept has been substantially matured, both technically and economically.
“The floating pilot plant will be an important step on the road towards technology commercialization, and an important arena for further development and optimization of the concept.”