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For now, seawater power can run a coffeemaker but boosters say it has great potential.
Statkraft claims it can break even if the electricity price reaches at least $100 a megawatt hour, but the current Norwegian price is not more than $57. Statkraft also admits that the membranes need to be five times more efficient than they are now. And since the seawater power-plant market still is very limited, there are too few membrane manufacturers to increase quality and decrease price. Statkraft built the current power plant membranes itself.
But the plant's boosters said that if Norwegians can successfully develop osmotic energy into a commercial hit, it can be a major breakthrough in the global energy challenge.
“We really need to increase the speed to bring this technology into the market,” Skillhagen said. “We ought to do this much quicker than we did with solar power and wind power.
“Seawater power is an energy source that can deliver stable amounts of energy that, for example, wind and waves cannot, because of their variation due to weather conditions. If you combine these sources, you can get an energy mix that can be of major significance in the future,” he added.
Following the discovery of large oil deposits in the 1970s, Norway experienced rapid economic growth. Being the world’s seventh-largest oil exporter and the second-largest seafood exporter, the Scandinavian kingdom ranked as the wealthiest country in the world with the largest capital reserve per capita, according to the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook 2009 report. But Norwegian oil production reached its peak in 2000 and has since slowly decreased, creating interest in alternative energy sources — such as the sea.