The Norwegian state-owned company Store Norske Energi installed the world’s northernmost solar farm. The developed pilot project with 360 solar panels is located in Svalbard on the Spitsbergen island – Svalbard’s only permanently inhabited island, located 1,300 km (808 miles) from the North Pole. Furthermore, it also includes battery storage.
Store Norske Energi collaborated with the University of Svalbard (UNIS) and Svalbard Energi (SEAS) to test such hybrid systems. Expansion plans also include replacing coal or diesel as a fuel with renewable energy for Arctic communities that are off-grid. Additional research is also needed to introduce wind power in such challenging circumstances.
Store Norske renewable energies technical adviser Mons Ole Sellevold told AFP “It’s what we believe to be the world’s northernmost ground-mounted PV (photovoltaic) system,”, adding, “It’s the first time anyone has done it at this scale in the Arctic,”
The solar panels were mounted on the ground near the Isfjord Radio station, which is also a weather station and provides accommodation for tourists and researchers. Built back in 1933, this radio station served as a communication connection between Svalbard and mainland Norway. Earlier in 2023, the radio station also installed 100 rooftop solar panels. In any case, taking into account that the location is 78° north, this currently presents the northernmost solar farm.
As said by Heidi Theresa Ose, the acting CEO at Store Norske, “We are well underway with the establishment of Isfjord Radio as a pilot for emission-free hybrid energy systems for off-grid communities in the Arctic. The goal in the long term is to approach a 100% renewable solution.”
The company commented that developing such a project was challenging, taking into account the work carried out in Arctic conditions. In addition, all noisy work had to be finished by May 15 in order to avoid disturbing wildlife.