The first osmotic power plant
Today, Her Royal Highness The Crown Princess officially opened the prototype of the world’s first osmotic power plant. The facility – which has attracted international attention – generates power by utilising the energy unleashed when freshwater meets seawater.
Located at Tofte near Oslo, the facility is a prototype that will primarily be used for testing and development purposes. The aim is to construct a commercial osmotic power plant in the near future, thereby giving a major boost to environment-friendly power production internationally. Osmotic power is a renewable, emissions-free energy source. In principle, plants can be built at any location where freshwater runs into the sea.
Both the Minister of Petroleum and Energy Terje Riis-Johansen and the President of the Bellona Foundation Frederic Hauge held speeches before Crown Princess Mette-Marit officially opened the plant by starting the turbine.
The Crown Princess was given a guided tour of the facility by Statkraft’s Stein Erik Skilhagen, which was concluded with a cup of tea – brewed with the electricity generated by osmotic power.
The potential for osmotic power in Norway is estimated to be 12 TWh annually – corresponding to 10 per cent of the country’s total energy consumption. The global potential is estimated to be 1 600-1 700 TWh annually – corresponding to 50 per cent of the EU’s overall power production.
How does it work?
At the osmotic power plant, freshwater and seawater are guided into separate chambers, divided by an artificial membrane. The salt molecules in the seawater pull the freshwater through the membrane, increasing the pressure on the seawater side. The pressure is equivalent to a 120-metre water column, or a significant waterfall, and can be used in a power generating turbine.
Statkraft, which constructed the osmotic power plant prototype, is Europe’s largest renewable energy company. The group develops and generates hydropower, wind power, gas power and district heating. Statkraft has been conducting research on osmotic power since 1997 and developed the prototype in collaboration with research and industrial communities in several countries.
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