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Solar power is reducing the energy footprint of fish

Approximately 8,000 square metres of roof at Lerøy Kjærelva have been decorated with solar panels. This reduces the facility’s energy footprint, including that of the fish.

“We generate electricity on our roof, and the electricity is used directly in our production processes, reducing the energy footprint of the fish”, says Svein Nøttveit, the technical coordinator for hatchery fish at Lerøy Vest and Sjøtroll Havbruk.

Lerøy Kjærelva is an RAS facility, which means that 99 percent of the water is reused. Since it uses so little water, RAS technology is environmentally friendly and sustainable. However, a lot of electricity is needed to clean the water that is used. Fish from RAS facilities therefore have a higher energy footprint than ones from traditional aquaculture.

“That’s why it is important to take action to reduce the size of that footprint”, says Svein.

Anne Hilde Midttveit, the head of sustainability at Lerøy, couldn’t agree more.

“The Lerøy Group has set itself challenging goals in relation to greenhouse gas emissions, so it is really important for us to make use of innovative technology where possible”, she says.

The roof seen from an angle
The roof seen in an oblique direction from above.

A long time in the planning

Svein has managed the installation of the solar panels at Kjærelva. When the facility was built in 2017, the roof was already designed to provide space for solar panels and to carry their load. However, when it was completed in 2019, the price of installing solar panels was so high that the idea was put on hold. By February 2022 the price had fallen by more than 50 percent, at which point the decision was taken to invest in rooftop solar panels.

“We have 14,000 square metres of roof, so we have to make use of it. With such a large area, solar panels are a really good option.”

Kjærelva seen from above.
This is how Kjærelva looks from above.

It has taken a bit longer than planned to get everything necessary in place for the solar panels to convert sunlight into electrical energy. The panels were installed during the summer, but due to delivery delays, the device that converts the energy from the solar panels into useful electricity was not.

“But now the solar panels are finally up and running”, says Svein with satisfaction.

He has every reason to be pleased, because in addition to the solar panels reducing the energy footprint of the fish, they will save approximately 1.2 gigawatt hours of electricity each year, equivalent to the annual consumption of around 75 households.

“It is great to see that Lerøy Kjærelva has taken action to reduce its carbon footprint. We hope that other companies will be inspired by Lerøy Kjærelva to look for climate-friendly solutions that can be implemented in their operations”, says Anne Hilde.


Aiming for further energy savings

The solar panels come with a display showing how much electricity they are generating and consuming. Svein plans to put up the display somewhere prominent at Kjærelva, so everyone can see and care about how much they are producing and consuming.

“That will put the spotlight on reducing energy consumption. Simply focusing on real-time consumption and generation should have an impact. That is both important and a way of saving energy”, he says.