A company called Statkraft has recently opened the world’s first osmotic power plant in Norway. The process, called osmotic power, is a harvesting the energy that appears when salted water and fresh water meet through an osmotic filter.
“It is a form of renewable energy which, unlike solar or wind power, produces a predictable and stable amount of energy regardless of the weather,” explained Stein Erik Skilhagen, in charge of the project at state-owned Statkraft, who specializes in renewable energy.
The phenomenon of osmosis is widespread in nature, permitting plants to drink through their leaves, and is used by industry to desalinate seawater. But the Norwegian experiment, a prototype that will produce just enough electricity to power a coffee-maker, will be the first time osmosis is used to make power.
“What’s important for now is to test and validate the technology, not to produce a lot of electricity,” Skilhagen said of the two to four kilowatts (KW) the plant will likely produce at first.
According to the company, the global potential of osmotic power is equivalent to half of the European Union’s current energy production, making a significant contribution to a sustainable, carbon neutral energy future. The osmotic power can also tap the latent power in other water sources, such as wastewater treatment plants and desalination plants.