04 Jun 2021

Statkraft’s Albanian Floating Solar Project Begins Operations

04 Jun 2021  by Energy Global   
Statkraft, one of Europe’s largest renewable energy generators, has started commercial operations at the first unit of its floating solar project in Albania in cooperation with Norwegian supplier, Ocean Sun, further contributing to the country’s renewable energy journey.

The project is placed at the Banja reservoir in Albania, where Statkraft is operating its 72 MW Banja hydropower plant. After the successful completion of the first floating solar unit and connection to the grid, the plant is now generating renewable energy and injecting the power into the Albanian national electricity grid.

Floating solar power involves installing solar panels on floating structures on a body of water, such as a lake, fjord or ocean, or in a hydropower reservoir. Each unit consists of a floating ring and a thin membrane. Combined with the cooling of the panels from the water below, it is this membrane and the large area that makes this concept unique. The technology is developed by Ocean Sun and although the membrane is only a few millimetres thick, it can easily withstand the weight of the solar panels and of personnel carrying out installation or maintenance tasks.

The first unit, comprising 1536 solar panels, has an installed capacity of 0.5 MWp and covers almost 4000 m2. In addition, 160 equal panels have been placed on land for comparison and documentation of the cooling effect on the floating panels. The project is expected to continue its second implementation phase during 2H2021, whereby an additional three floating units will be installed, with a combined additional capacity of 1.5 MWp.

Statkraft has been present in Albania since 2007. The country with a population of approximately 3 million people and has one of the highest shares of renewable energy in Southeast Europe. Hydropower accounts for the largest share of Albania’s electricity generation, representing around 95% of its installed power capacity. In addition, the country has some of Europe’s highest number of sunshine hours per year, presenting significant potential for the development of solar power and a good fit with existing hydropower capacity.

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