Norner supports Ocean Sun towards a clean energy future

Floating solar cell modules mounted on a polymer membrane

There is a high focus today on producing clean energy made from renewable sources, and Ocean Sun is one company we are supporting in this segment. 

The wind energy sector is divided into turbines made for on-shore and turbines made for off-shore conditions. When thinking of energy produced by solar cells, most of us think of land based solar module plants or solar cell modules placed on the roofs or facades of houses, cabins or other industry buildings. But did you also know that solar cells can be placed off-shore? They can! 

Ocean Sun has developed a technology that will enable large-scale solar development on coastal seawater, lakes and reservoirs and they have patented the technology in several countries around the world.

Ocean Sun’s vision is to provide the technology that makes clean energy production the cheapest alternative to large populations around the world. The company was established by Børge Bjørneklett, Øyvind Rohn and Arnt Emil Ingulstad in 2016. 

Ocean Sun has successfully tested a prototype off-shore in Western Norway since April 2017. 

Test facilities have also been built on a fish farm outside Singapore and on a water power reservoir at the Philippines for SN Power. Recently a commercial contract was signed with Statkraft Albania for the delivery of a floating solar plant with a maximum capacity of 2 MW at the Banja reservoir in Albania.

Land-based solar power plants require large areas with abundant sun. There is however a limited number of suitable sites located near the population centres where the power will be used. Floating solar cells create major opportunities to renewable energy production around the world. They can be used in areas which are seen upon as not very productive, such as in the open ocean, ponds or lakes.

Ocean Sun’s floating solar system are built up of a thin polymer membrane carrying the solar cell modules. One benefit of attaching the solar cell modules directly on the polymer membrane is to lower the temperature in the solar cells. By lowering the operating cell temperature in the solar modules, the system efficiency may increase as much as 15% compared to standard land-based installations. 

Norner supports Ocean Sun and their suppliers in selecting, developing and testing the optimal polymer membrane solution. The membrane needs to be strong enough to carry the loads of the modules and to be able to withstand the movement of the waves. The membrane will be exposed to sun light, water, heat and marine algaes which are factors that will have an important impact on the lifetime of the membranes. A strong, weather resistant, thin membrane with more than 20 years lifetime is the target.

Norner has a significant polymer know-ledge and know-how on how to formulate the most optimum polymer solution for a product that needs 20 years of lifetime or longer. The manufacturers of the membrane use their own in-house and secret formulations, but a good dialog on how to be able to reach the target of 20 years lifetime has been obtained by Norner’s support.

Another important aspect of the colla-boration with Ocean Sun is the testing facilities that Norner offers. The mechani-cal properties of the membranes need to be good enough to carry the loads of the solar cells, the wind and waves and also that people walk on the membranes during mounting and inspection. 

Polymers that are exposed to sun, heat and water will degrade during time, and it is very important to test and prove that the mechanical properties of the membrane is sufficient even after long term use. 

Norner offers environmentally durability testing by accelerated ageing, and our Weather-O-meters, mechanical test facilities along with material characterization are being used in the present collaboration. 

The collaboration with Ocean Sun increases Norner’s experience within materials for the renewable energy, and we look forward to continued support of the exciting products that Ocean Sun deliver.

 

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