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Oil and gas giant Statoil moves into solar, acquires share in 162 megawatt Brazilian facility

  • Construction of the facility due to begin this month
  • It is expected to supply 160,000 homes with electricity
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Statoil is entering the solar market.

The Norwegian energy business announced Wednesday that it had signed an agreement to acquire a 40 percent share in the "construction ready," 162 megawatt (MW) Apodi solar asset in Brazil.

Statoil said it would be acquiring the share from Scatec Solar, an independent solar power producer based in Norway. It added that the two businesses had agreed on an "exclusive cooperation" which would see them jointly work on "potential future solar projects" in Brazil.

"Brazil is a core area for Statoil where our ambition is to deliver safe and sustainable growth in a significant energy market," Irene Rummelhoff, Statoil's executive vice president for new energy solutions, said in a statement.

Construction on the facility, in the northeastern state of Ceara, will commence this month, with the target of producing electricity from the end of next year. The project is set to send electricity to around 160,000 households.

"As part of Statoil's strategy to actively complement our oil and gas portfolio with profitable renewable energy sources, we have so far focused on offshore wind, where we have a unique competitive advantage building on over 40 years with oil and gas activities," Rummelhoff said.

"The Apodi asset is a sensible first step into the solar industry and can demonstrate how solar can provide Statoil with scalable and profitable growth opportunities," she added.

Statoil has been looking to expand its horizons when it comes to renewables. In September, it announced that the final turbine on its Dudgeon wind farm in England had been installed.

At the time, Rummelhoff said the business was "well on its way" to providing over 1 million homes in Europe with renewable electricity. Statoil is the project's operator with a 35 percent share, while Statkraft and Masdar are partners with 30 and 35 percent shares, respectively.

News of Statoil's foray into solar came on the same day that the International Energy Agency (IEA) said that new solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity increased by 50 percent in 2016. The IEA's executive director, Fatih Birol, said the world was witnessing the birth of a "new era in solar PV."