Norway’s Statkraft to build world’s first osmotic power plant

4 October 2007 – Norwegian power company Statkraft has decided to build the world’s first prototype osmotic power plant adding it was also stepping up its initiatives to develop the technology further.

Osmotic power is a renewable energy source. Calculations indicate that the technology could contribute around 1600 TWh on a global basis annually, according to the Norwegian power producer.

Osmotic power is based on the natural process of osmosis. In an osmotic power plant, seawater and fresh water are separated by a membrane. The seawater draws the fresh water through the membrane, thereby increasing the pressure on the seawater side. The increased pressure is used to produce power.

After ten years of research and development, Statkraft said it believe the time is now right to build the first osmotic power plant prototype and is therefore stepping up its initiatives and investments to develop the technology. With this decision Statkraft will have invested more than NOK 100m ($18.4m) to develop a new, renewable energy technology.

Osmotic power is clean and emission-free, and could become competitive within a few years, said Statkraft’s CEO, Bard Mikkelsen. The research work is supported by The Research Council of Norway.

The prototype plant will be built at the paper pulp manufacturer Sodra
Cell Tofte’s plant at Hurum in Buskerud, Norway. The location will provide the osmotic plant with a good supply of fresh water and seawater, along with access to the established infrastructure.

The construction of the prototype is expected to be completed by the end of 2008. The osmotic power plant will produce between 2-4 kW of energy, Statkraft said.