IDE to design PRO power-generation pilot in Norway

The Norwegian renewable-energy company Statkraft has made an agreement for IDE Technologies to design and later purchase and construct a 2 MW osmotic power-generation pilot plant in close cooperation with Statkraft.

Dr Boris Liberman, IDE Technologies vice president and chief technology officer for membrane technology, said that the plant would be based on pressure-retarded osmosis, a variation of forward osmosis membrane technology.

The plant, which will be capable of 24/7 operation in any weather, is scheduled for construction in Sunndalsøra, Norway, within a few years.
Most of the plant will be based on existing technology used in desalination and other industries. However, IDE will design innovative solutions in several areas of the pilot plant, such as the energy-recovery system and the fresh water and seawater pretreatment.

“We have been researching osmotic energy production for some time now, and intend to bring our R&D findings, our solid engineering solutions and our water expertise to this project,” said Liberman. “This will result in driving costs down while increasing net energy output.”

In summer 2012, three years after its osmotic power prototype was opened at Tofte, Statkraft announced that it had started to assess a location for a possible pilot facility. Sunndalsøra was chosen because freshwater for the pilot facility can be collected from the outlet tunnel from the Aura power plant, while seawater can be pumped from a depth of 40 m further out in the fjord.

Stein Erik Skilhagen, head of osmotic power at Statkraft, said, “The Tofte facility is in use for testing components, processes and membranes. We have selected IDE to design this pilot plant as we are certain that IDE’s pioneering R&D and solid engineering practices, coupled with Statkraft’s experience and capabilities, represent the best team to handle the technological and economic barrier to osmotic power generation.”

In June 2012, he observed, “We see that the development of technology is accelerating and that an industry is emerging. The membranes we are testing at Tofte this summer are ten times more efficient than the ones we installed during the opening of the prototype in the autumn of 2009.”