The objectives for Statkraft’s innovation efforts are to develop and strengthen competitive advantages within the core business and develop new business opportunities. Innovation is also important in order to build competence and ensure future framework conditions. Multi-year R&D programmes have been established, closely linked to the Group's strategic focus areas, hydropower, wind power and bio-energy.
Statkraft has also established a dedicated climate R&D programme that will e.g. focus on developing business-specific climate knowledge and contributing toward ensuring that the global climate models are adapted to planning and operations.
Examples of innovation projects in 2015:
Liquid biofuel is a research activity addressing the business opportunities in the bio-energy market.
Norway has an abundance of available biomass feedstock. While Norwegian electricity generation is almost 100% renewable, the Norwegain transport sector is dominated by fossil fuels. In February 2015, Södra and Statkraft established Silva Green Fuel AS. The first task is to qualify a cost-efficient technology for profitable production of second generation biofuels based on forestry raw materials. The aim is to implement the first industrial production plant at the industrial site at Tofte. In this way, Södra and Statkraft can become an important contributor towards achieving national and international targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector.
Water availability in the future
Changes in water availability is one of the main risks to Statkraft’s international hydropower business. To increase the knowledge on this issue, Statkraft has initiated a project to address challenges regarding decreasing water resources, caused by climate change, competitive water demand and new regulations. In the first phase of the project existing information on historical trends, climate change predictions and governmental plans were mapped. The results for each of the seven countries in the study are used to identify knowledge gaps at present. These gaps are now covered by follow-up projects in the different countries to make sure we develop the knowledge and solutions we need for efficient hydropower in all our operations in new parts of the world.
Reindeer and wind power
Development of onshore wind power projects in areas with reindeer husbandry is especially complex and sensitive. Statkraft is involved in research projects in both Norway and Sweden to improve the knowledge about land use and the behaviour of semi-domestic reindeer. The aim is to find measures to avoid and reduce possible negative impacts on reindeer husbandry caused by wind power.
R&D solves problems related to hydropower operations
The operation of Francis turbine at part load is associated with the formation of pressure pulsations that usually lead to restrictions for operation ranges. There is a number of reasons for operation at part load, such as grid frequency control or meeting minimum flow requirements. The troublesome flow conditions at part load operation can however be improved. A pressure pulsation reduction system (Diffcon) has been developed by Troms Kraft, Flow Design Bureau and Statkraft. By means of water injection directly into the draft tube, counteracting the natural spin of the water exiting the runner at part load, flow conditions have been improved and pressure pulsations reduced. The system has been successfully tested and proven at Svorka power station during 2015.
The water footprint of hydropower
Different methods have been used to establish a comparison of the water footprint for different technologies. A SINTEF-led project has been looking into the weaknesses of such methodologies, trying to develop new ones which incorporate multipurpose aspects of hydropower in areas with water scarcity. This is due to the fact that many reservoirs are used for multipurpose such as drinking water, irrigation and flood control. This might be equally important for electricity generation in many areas abroad. The new methods are gaining international acceptance and contributes to improve the image of hydropower sustainability.