Statkraft celebrates Albania’s first floating solar site entering commercial operations

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The Banja Reservoir is now home to both Statkraft’s 72MW hydropower asset and floating solar. Image: Statkraft

Statkraft has completed what it claims to be Albania’s first floating solar plant, energising a 500kW, first phase install at the base of a hydropower project on the country’s Banja reservoir.

With an installed capacity of 0.5MWp, the first unit is to be followed by three more, adding a further 1.5MWp to the project’s overall capacity. These are to be installed on the reservoir – which is also home to Statkraft’s 72MW hydropower plant – in the latter half of 2021.

Each unit consists of a floating ring and a thin membrane, an element that, alongside the cooling of the panels from the water below and the large area, the company said makes the concept unique.

The first of these units is made up of 1,536 panels covering 4,000 square meters, with a further 160 panels having been placed on land for comparison and documentation of the cooling effect of the floating panels.

The floating solar was developed in collaboration with Norwegian supplier Ocean Sun, which developed the technology for the asset, with the duo also bringing local contractor Doko on board.

The partnership between the two Norwegian firms was first announced in March 2019, with the total cost of the asset expected to be €2.3 million (US$2.8 million).

Rigela Gegprifti, Statkraft’s country head in Albania, said: “After the start of commercial operations of our Banja and Moglice hydropower plants, we are looking into further optimising these renewable assets.

“The Banja Floating Solar Plant is a concrete example for further integration of different resources of renewable energy.”

The volume of hydropower in the country, which represents around 95% of the country’s installed power capacity, alongside Albania boasting some of Europe’s highest number of sunshine hours per year makes it an attractive market for the development of floating solar.

A separate 12.9MW floating solar project is also currently under development in the country, with a €9.1 million loan provided by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to a special-purpose vehicle established by state-owned utility Korporata Elektroenergjitike Shqiptare in April.

29 March 2022
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