Statkraft has announced it is to discontinue its efforts to develop osmotic power technology, stating that it believes the technology is not sufficiently developed to become competitive within the foreseeable future.

"Our main challenge has been to make the technology efficient enough to achieve energy production costs on par with competing technologies. With the current market conditions, we see that we cannot achieve this in the foreseeable future. There are other technologies which have developed enormously in recent years. These are more competitive and relevant investments for us in the future," says Statkraft department manager Stein Erik Skilhagen.

"We have proven that the technology works and have achieved substantial improvements through our efforts. The technology can also be used in other applications, for instance production of potable water. We are now leaving the process of maturing the technology to others, as several independent public and private enterprises around the world are looking into this already," Skilhagen adds.

Statkraft has been working on osmotic power for more than a decade. The idea of exploiting the osmotic pressure which arises when fresh and salt water meet was conceived by a US scientist in the 1970’s. A quarter of a century had to pass before market conditions made several independent public and private enterprises take up the idea and start developing the technology further.

Statkraft became a leader in the field early on, and the company’s efforts were intensified in 2009 with the opening of a prototype facility at Tofte on Hurum, near Oslo. Processes, membranes and other elements have been tested in the facility.

The next step would have been to establish a larger pilot facility, and Statkraft has previously secured a licence for such a facility on Sunndalsøra in Norway.


Image: Prototype facility at Tofte