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Statkraft starts commercial operations at first floating solar plant in Albania

03 Jun, 2021

After successful completion of the implementation phase and connection to the national electricity grid, the first unit of the Banja Floating Solar Plant started successful commercial operations. The plant is generating renewable energy and injecting it in the Albanian national electricity grid.

The project is located at the Banja reservoir in Albania, where Statkraft is operating its 72-megawatt Banja hydropower plant. Banja Floating Solar Plant in Albania is an innovative R&D project implemented by Statkraft with an installed capacity of 2 MWp.

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 has a plastic ring and a thin membrane. Combined with the cooling of the panels from the water below, it is this membrane and the large area that makes this concept unique. It was developed by Ocean Sun and although the membrane is only a few millimeters thick, it can easily withstand the weight of the solar panels and of personnel carrying out installation or maintenance tasks.

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 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 1.5 MWp. 

This is a great milestone in an innovative floating solar project, and it is exciting to see the plant come alive and provide additional renewable energy production in Albania. We are looking forward to the concrete results of this R&D project to assess the potential for further expansion of this exciting technology.” says CEO of Statkraft, Christian Rynning-Tønnesen. 

This is a project that is aligned with our government’s strategy for the diversification of renewable energy sources, because in Albania we generate only renewable energy. This is something remarkable, a very important day for me as a Minister of Energy, and certainly for Statkraft’s successful team, and also for the ambassador that I believe feels proud that a very important company of his country delivers on a project that has values for all Europe, because the diversification strategy and increasing the generating capacities of renewable energy is a trend throughout Europe and a requirement of the European Union. Albania is fortunate in this regard, a champion in renewable energy generation, since all the energy generated in our country comes from renewable resources.” says Belinda Balluku, Albania’s Minister of Infrastructure and Energy.

Albania is a country with high energy generation from hydropower, similar to Norway, and this has been one of the reasons of Statkraft’s interest to invest in the country as part of our international expansion. Today we see that Albania can play a key role as a renewable energy hub in the Western Balkan region. Our experience of more than a decade in Albania has shown that it is possible to succeed in the renewable energy sector, and our achievements has been made possible due to close cooperation with the Albanian authorities. We are proud to announce that we have successfully completed the first phase of another innovative project in renewable energy in Albania, at the Banja Floating Solar Plant.” Says Time Iyer Utne, SVP, Head of South Asia & SE Europe.

Today’s achievement marks an important milestone for Statkraft in Albania and a further step in our mission to lead the shift to renewable energy through innovative solutions. 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 

Statkraft has been present in Albania since 2007. Albania has one of the highest shares of renewable energy in Southeast Europe. Hydropower accounts for the largest share of Albania’s electricity generation, representing around 95% of its installed power capacity. In addition, Albania has some of Europe’s highest number of sunshine hours per year, presenting significant potential for the development of solar power and a good fit with existing hydropower capacity.