Norwegian oil giant Equinor is partnering with Vollsveien-based engineering specialist Moss Maritime, a unit of Italian gas contractor Saipem, to test an offshore floating solar array off the island of Froya, near Trondheim, in the Norwegian Sea.
The 80 m x 80 m installation will be built by late summer and will be tested for at least a year. The solar panels will be installed at a height of less than 3 meters above the water surface, the company said, without providing additional technical details. Equinor will then assess the plant's power production to determine how harsh weather conditions and rough waters affect its performance. The Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate is currently reviewing the project for approval.
“If we succeed here, we can succeed anywhere,” said Hanne Wigum, the head of the Equinor's solar and wind tech unit.
Alexander Thogersen, vice president of engineering at Moss Maritime, also noted that the concept has been in development for the past three years.
“The concept has been substantially matured, both technically and economically,” he added.
Equinor and Saipem signed an agreement in March to jointly develop a “floating solar panel park technological solution for near-coastal applications.” Equinor announced its intent to enter the solar energy business in February 2017, when it launched a $197 million fund dedicated to renewables. It rebranded as Equinor in March to reflect its transition into clean energy. In November 2019, it agreed to take a 9.7% interest in solar developer Scatec Solar for $82.4 million.
Saipem recently expanded into the renewable energy business. In November, it secured two contracts worth €750 million to build wind farms in the United Kingdom and Taiwan.