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Solar energy in Equinor

The Apodi solar plant in Brazil.
The Apodi solar plant in Brazil.
Photo: Einar Aslaksen
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The sun is an invaluable source of energy for the future, and the forecast looks bright for solar power.

Substantial cost reductions and technological advancements have turned solar photovoltaics (PV) into an increasingly attractive power source, competing with traditional sources of energy in many parts of the world. Solar PV is low cost and fast deployable.

Solar is geared for decades of strong growth. Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) estimates that around 30% of global electricity will come from solar PV in 2050. International Energy Agency (IEA) says solar PV needs to grow 20-fold from 2021 to 2050 to meet their net zero 2050 scenario.

For Equinor, solar is an important part of the toolbox when developing as a market driven power producer, a strategy that we have been pursuing since 2019. This means targeting selected power markets with energy solutions that meet customer and market needs. We implement this approach by building an onshore renewables portfolio backed by storage solutions and trading capabilities.

For the host communities, solar enables domestic energy production and contributes to a secure supply of renewable and affordable electricity to consumers for the long-term.

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Our portfolio

Equinor is in the process of building a profitable onshore renewables portfolio in selected markets.

Brazil

Equinor’s first step into solar energy was the 162 MW Apodi Solar plant in Brazil. Equinor has a 43.5% share in Apodi along with operator Scatec. The plant started production in 2018.

In summer 2022, construction works started in the 531 MW Mendubim solar project, realized in partnership with Scatec and Hydro Rein. Equinor has 33.3% in the project that is planned to come in production in 2024.

In 2023, Equinor acquired Brazilian onshore renewables company Rio Energy, including the 0.2 GW Serra da Babilonia 1 producing onshore wind farm and a pipeline of onshore wind and solar projects.

Poland

In 2021, Equinor acquired Polish solar developer Wento. Wento has a pipeline of onshore renewables and battery storage projects across Poland. Two solar plants, Stępień (58 MW) and Zagórzyca (60 MW), and the onshore wind farm Wilko (26 MW) are in commercial production. One more solar plant is under construction.

North Europe

In November 2022, Equinor acquired Danish solar developer BeGreen. BeGreen has a solar project pipeline in Denmark, Sweden and Poland.

Ownership positions

Equinor holds a 100% ownership share in Rio Energy, a leading Brazilian onshore renewables company.
Equinor holds a 100% ownership share in BeGreen, a leading Danish solar developer.
Equinor holds a 100% ownership share in Wento, a leading Polish solar developer.
Equinor holds a 16.2% ownership share in Scatec, an integrated independent renewable power producer.

How does solar PV work?

  • Solar panels work by absorbing sunlight (photons) in photovoltaic cells. Several cells are interconnected in one panel. They generate direct current (DC) which is converted to usable alternating current (AC) with the help of an DC/AC inverter.
  • The panels are either installed on metal structures with a fixed tilt or onto trackers that can optimize the angle between the sun and the panels.
  • Typical PV panels for utility scale solar projects (> 5 MW) produce 600 W in ideal conditions (around noon with no clouds). The panels can convert around 21-22 % of the incoming sunlight to electricity. They are typically more than 2 meters tall, more than 1 meter wide and weigh around 35 kg. A large utility scale PV plant can consist of more than 500 000 such panels.
  • Most of today’s PV technology is based on silicon. Silicon is a well-known and abundant material which makes it a good candidate to accommodate for the growing need for solar power globally. The main downside of silicon PV panels is that the manufacturing process is energy intensive, and the technology has limited upside when it comes to significant efficiency improvements. Alternative materials such as perovskites are being researched to improve efficiency in future PV panels.