With support from Innovation Norway, Sunlit Sea is aiming to deliver the best solution for floating solar power for ocean areas.
Interest and advances in floating solar power have gained momentum in recent years. This technology has enormous potential, although it is currently in its infancy, particularly when it comes to solar panel farms in salt water. This provides huge opportunities for the technology company Sunlit Sea to develop solar panels specifically designed for ocean areas.
A technology race
"Floating solar power offers great energy capacity. Our goal is to deliver the best solution for floating solar power in sheltered waters. Our construction method provides us with advantages because we have taken particular account of cooling and water penetration," says Per Lindberg, an entrepreneur and CEO at Sunlit Sea.
“It’s an incredibly exciting industry and a technology race like no other,” says Lindberg, who has spent his entire career in solar energy. He has worked with everything from industrial solar panel production to installing panels, as well as researching the next generation of solar panel materials.
“This has provided me with a comprehensive understanding of the solar energy industry, and I understand what you need to do to construct an efficient product,” he says.
High value creation
In 2021, the company received NOK 8.4 million from the environmental technology programme in Innovation Norway. Innovation Norway worked with the company since the start and has contributed grants, loans, and advice in various phases together with owners and investors.
“Without that support, we wouldn’t exist today. Innovation Norway has arranged contacts, helped with promotion, and been a great sparring partner. It has been a constructive and effective collaboration that has also been very valuable for us,” says Lindberg.
Much of this support has gone to understanding the electronics, how the panels move, and how the panels can be mounted in the best possible way.
Funding adviser Roger Hatling at Innovation Norway praises the company’s expertise and technology solution, and believes it is good news for the Norwegian solar panel industry.
"There is a huge need for renewables around the world, and being able to offer efficient and robust solar panel technology offshore rather than on more expensive or inaccessible land areas could contribute to an even faster transition from fossil produced energy to renewables," says Halting.
"Sunlit Sea has solid core expertise and a good network that, combined with the technology, enables high value creation and building expertise in Norway through this project,” he continues.
One of the main challenges associated with floating solar panels is that it is still expensive. Therefore, part of Sunlit Sea’s solution is to reduce costs by prefabricating entire strings of solar panel floats. This will contribute to better quality control, rapid solar farm construction, and lower electricity prices.
“Floating solar power is highly suitable for prefabrication since the ocean areas where they will be located are, more or less, alike, unlike shore-based solar power farms,” explains Lindberg.
All of the power electronics and sensors for the panels are developed in-house, and prefabrication means that fewer people are needed to launch the panels, which in turn makes the job cheaper. The product is designed for efficient cleaning.
The road ahead
The company is currently working on prototype number five, which, among other things, will verify how much electricity is generated by systems in choppy water.
“We are working hard to ensure we can guarantee electricity generation guarantees,” says Lindberg.
The whole world is Sunlit Sea’s market, with Southeast Asia, Central America, and other equatorial regions as its most promising areas. The company is currently in a product development phase and expects to be able to realise large scale projects in 2024.
“Going forward, we will continue to build a network. Norway has an enormous amount of experience and expertise in both offshore and, more recently, also solar power. We believe Norwegian industry can do very well in floating solar power.”