What is the potential like for solar cells as energy sources in Northern Scandinavia given the Polar Night and short summers?
“Simulations show that there is a very large potential in Northern Sweden,” says Research Director Tobias Boström at Norut Narvik.
“The Bottenvik region has more than 2000 hours of sunshine per year. In comparison, Germany, which is the largest solar energy market in Europe, has no more than about 1900 hours of sunshine at the most. But in order to see what we can actually achieve, we need to test it out in practice,” says Boström.
Scientists from Norut Narvik are now starting to build a solar cell park in cooperation with power company PiteEnergi AB in Piteå in Northern Sweden. They have high ambitions: they want to find out if there are grounds to build solar power plants of several megawatts in the north.
It is no coincidence that Piteå has been chosen. Despite its northerly location, Piteå has a high annual number of sunshine hours and is well renowned as a holiday destination by several generations of residents of the north in search of sun.
The solar cell park will be built at the site of PiteEnergi. A solar power plant of 20 kW covering 160 m² will be completed in the autumn. The panels will contain various types of solar cells and solar tracking system, so that the scientists can acquire knowledge about which technology is best suited to conditions in the north.
The energy production from each panel will be monitored from the offices in Narvik via internet connection. The Norut scientists will also have access to offices at PiteEnergi when required.
What will PiteEnergi get in return for filling the site with solar panels? The solar cell park is estimated to produce 28,000 kW of electricity per annum, and this will be used to provide energy for PiteEnergi’s office building. If everything goes to plan, the office building will have a self-sufficient supply of solar power, making this a win-win result for the cooperation between Norut and the power company.
The solar cell industry is struggling and Narvik is at present affected by lay-offs at renewable energy company REC, which provides extra motivation for the scientists at Norut Narvik to map new applications and optimal material use of solar cells. This is a two-year project.
Research Director Tobias Boström, Norut Narvik