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After the idea of using PRO was developed in the early 70’s, limited effort has been made to bring this technology to a commercial level. There have been some minor studies and testing, but it was not until Statkraft started working with PRO that the development picked up momentum. Since this work started around 1996, research has been focused on designing a suitable membrane for PRO, and at the same time one has worked with system design and several studies of the feasibility of the concept as a commercial source of energy.

The development of an efficient membrane for osmotic power has been the major focus of the efforts made by Statkraft. The current power density of the membrane is approximately 3 W/m2, which is up from less than 0.1 W/m2 a few years back. This research has for most part been done in Germany, Norway and the Netherlands, there are however other groups working on similar topics both in North America and Asia.

The world’s first prototype of osmotic power started operation in 2009 in the southeast of Norway. The main objectives of the prototype are twofold. Firstly, confirming that the designed system can produce power on a reliable 24-hour/day production. Secondly to use the plant for further testing of technology achieved from parallel research activities to substantially increase the efficiency.

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