European renewable energy generator Statkraft, in collaboration with Norwegian supplier Ocean Sun, has started commercial operations at the first unit of its floating solar project in Albania.

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.

Image credit: Statkraft

The first unit, comprising 1536 solar panels, has an installed capacity of 0.5 MWp and covers almost 4,000 square meters. 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 unique as it uses Ocean Sun’s patented membrane technology. The solar modules are mounted on hydro-elastic membranes and offers cost and performance benefits not seen in many other floating PV systems.

The project is expected to continue its second implementation phase during the second half of 2021, whereby additional three floating units will be installed, with a combined additional capacity of 1.5MWp.

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“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,” says Rigela Gegprifti, Statkraft’s country head in Albania.

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

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