The Advanced Technology Centre for Renewable Energies (CTAER) from Spain has signed a contract with IDOM engineering to start work on the construction of the variable geometry testing facility for the evaluation and characterization of solar collectors of the parabolic trough type. The construction phase has already begun.
The project aims to build infrastructure for research and development of technologies that produce thermosolar energy, in the present case for those that use parabolic trough collectors, which are the most used collector type.
This engineering project is based on a variable geometry, where the test systems are not fixed but can follow the sun’s apparent movement. The versatility of the new infrastructure incorporates greater capacities than those that currently exist. They will make it possible to test new components and systems and a high level of thermal, optical-structural and fluid dynamic evaluations of parabolic trough collectors. This will allow development and experimental validation of rules, and standardized characterization and evaluation procedures for this type of collectors.
The new infrastructure will be located on land owned by CTAER in the municipality of Tabernas in the province of Almeria, Spain. Site work will begin in July and finish approximately in November 2013.
Madrid - SENER, an international engineering and technology group, was present in the first foundation stone ceremony of the solar thermal plant in Ouarzazate (Morocco), held last Friday May 10.
The Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (Masen), an agency of the Government of Morocco, has selected a project led by the Saudi company ACWA Power, from which the Spanish companies TSK and Aries also form part, for the development of the first phase of the Ouarzazate CSP complex, in Morocco. In the group of companies involved in the project it can be found as EPC contractor (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) a 100 % Spanish consortium formed by SENER, ACCIONA and TSK. The consortium will be responsible for the construction and commissioning of the plant.
In the first foundation stone ceremony, that counted with the presence of the King of Morocco, His Majesty Mohamed VI, and with representatives from the political and business world, was present the deputy General Manager of SENER’s Strategic Business Unit of Power and Process, Borja Zárraga.
The thermosolar resort, located close to the city of Ouarzazate, at an emplacement that benefits from the magnificent solar and environmental conditions, will have an installed capacity of 160MW and will involve an investment of more than 500 million Euros. It is expected that the construction, which will start shortly, will be carried out in 28 months.
The technology the plant will be equipped with consist on the trough collector system SENERtrough®, designed and patented by SENER, and on energy storage system using molten salt to generate electricity in the absence of solar radiation.
To date, SENER has taken part in the construction of over twenty-five concentrated solar power plants, most of them as turnkey projects, in Spain, USA and India. These projects amount to more than 1,500 MWe of installed capacity and a saving of over one million tons of CO2. Some of these projects, already in operation, can be considered as true technological milestones.
Noteworthy in this field is the Gemasolar plant, located in Fuentes de Andalucía in the province of Seville (Spain) which, worldwide, is the first plant whose design combines a central tower receiver with a molten-salt thermal storage system. SENER has provided all the technological innovations and engineering needed for this plant, being also responsible for the management of the construction, commissioning and start of commercial operation.
The two major contributions of SENER in the field of thermal solar technology have been: first, thermal storage, both in plants with central tower receiver as in parabolic trough collector plants, which dramatically improves real-time management of power generation. Thanks to its storage capacity, these plants may continue to produce energy in the absence of solar radiation; and, secondly, the contribution to cost reduction by industrialized designs and processes.
Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. (BHEL), a regular supplier of steam turbines for varied industrial applications from Hyderabad, has announced the launch of its solar power driven steam turbine for use in Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) generation. The turbine will have a capacity of 50 MW, driven by steam generated through solar power. BHEL has developed the steam turbine to suite the varying conditions of solar power plant requirements like daily start/stop, fast start up and loading, capability to operate at part loads etc. “We are in talks with several solar power operators. We are confident of securing a few orders for the product this fiscal year”, said N. Ravi Chander, Executive Director of BHEL’s Hyderabad unit.
The cost per kWh of CSP in India could not keep up the same pace as solar PV. One reason for this was identified as reliance on import of equipment. With efforts for indigenous equipment supplies by BHEL fresh hopes for cost competitive CSP in India have been infused.
The firm’s newly created division, Project Engineering and Systems Division (PESD), has also been approached by a solar power operator to provide engineering consultancy services for a 5 MW hybrid solar station and integrating it with the existing 2x100 MW combined cycle project in Gujarat, which will be executed in a short span of time.
The Bremen-based solar company toughTrough GmbH has joined the trade association "German CSP", which works for the promotion of German technology in the global market for solar thermal power plants. The association was founded in June 2012, and has set itself the goal of focusing the efforts of German CSP (Concentrated Solar Power) companies on joint projects as well as representing the industry in German politics. The founding members were Schott, E.ON and the German Aerospace Centre, among others.
toughTrough GmbH is a globally active company and was founded in 2011 as a joint venture by the partners at the Bremen-based engineering service provider machtTechnik AG and of Brüggen GmbH. As a specialist for the production and manufacture of large lightweight structures, the company offers tailor-made solutions for lightweight solar applications, such as their toughTrough mirror system.
San Antonio - Solidifying its leadership position in the new energy economy, San Antonio and Texas soon will be home to the largest U.S. municipal solar power project to date. The 400 megawatt (MW) project is being developed through a public-private partnership between OCI Solar Power and CPS Energy, a utility serving the Greater San Antonio area.
San Antonio-based OCI Solar Power broke ground at its Blue Wing Road site today to officially mark the start of construction of this landmark project. At 41 MW, Alamo I represents the first phase of construction on the mega solar agreement that will deliver clean, renewable energy to CPS Energy as part of a 25-year power purchase agreement.
"The Alamo project provides a blueprint for a public-private partnership model that can stimulate renewable energy development around the country," said OCI Solar Power President Tony Dorazio. "Through its commitment to the environment and the economy, CPS Energy is powering its customers with clean renewable energy, while attracting renewable energy-related companies and manufacturing that promote economic development and good jobs."
Several local San Antonio renewable energy-focused manufacturing companies will provide major components required to build the project. Nexolon America LLC will manufacture the high efficiency solar panels; ERCAM Trackers will produce the patented, two-axis photovoltaic (PV) solar trackers as well as single- and fixed-axis trackers; and KACO new energy will supply the photovoltaic inverter and power electronics.
Alamo I will be completed by year-end and will provide power to nearly 7,000 San Antonio households. Upon completion in late 2016, the entire 400 MW project will power 70,000 local households or 10% of San Antonio's customers.
With more than 40 projects ranging from three to 400 MW throughout the U.S., OCI Solar Power is creating new standards for partnerships and community development. In addition to providing the local community with a renewable, cost-effective solar power source, the 400 MW project brings more than $1 billion in construction investment, creates 800 permanent professional and technical jobs and will have a projected annual economic impact of $700 million. The San Antonio project places Texas in the top five U.S. solar energy-producing states.
"This project signals San Antonio's continued emergence as a leader in the New Energy Economy," said San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro. "This phase is only the first of many milestones to come bringing good-paying jobs and fostering economic development and sustainable energy for our community and state."
Source: OCI Solar Power
Ines Bresler, Markus Grunwald
The German Centre for Aerospace in southern Spain has commenced operation of a new test system for direct generation of steam for use in solar thermal power plants. The direct generation of steam from water will help to reduce the cost of solar thermal electricity. Up till now, most solar thermal power plants have been constructed with parabolic, trough-shaped collectors and use a synthetic oil as a thermal transfer medium. This oil is only stable up to about 400 °C and the heat must later be transferred to the water via a heat exchanger. This then usually creates steam, which drives a turbine to produce electricity.
"The challenge with direct steam generation systems of this type is the increased operating pressure of approximately 110 bar in the receiver tubes as well as controlling the overall process. But the benefits outweigh the disadvantages: With this circulation concept, heat exchangers and many other additional components, such as treatment facilities for the oil, become unnecessary," project manager Fabian Feldhoff from the DLR Institute of Solar Research describes the benefits of new technology.
With the 1,000 meter long collector field and a thermal output of three megawatts, the scientists at the research project DUKE (Circulation Concept - Development and Testing) are demonstrating the functionality of the circulation concept on an industrial scale.
Madrid - The SENER engineering and technology group and its joint venture with Masdar, Torresol Energy, a company that promotes the technological development, construction, operation and maintenance of large scale concentrated solar power plants around the world, will once again attend this year's World Future Energy Summit, the international future renewable energy conference that will be held from the 15th to the 17th of January in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Both companies, leaders in the solar power industry due to their development and application of innovative technology, will share a stand where they will showcase their latest achievements, a year after having commercially launched the Valle 1 and Valle 2 power plants in Cadiz (south of Spain) and after having operated the Gemasolar plant in Seville (south of Spain) as it was expected.
SENER, which is a leader in the sector both for its technological solutions and for the number of CSP plants whose engineering and construction it has developed, will bring its latest technological achievements to the trade fair: the cleaning systems HECTOR for heliostat plants and PARIS, for parabolic trough cleaning plants. Likewise, SENER will show the improvements to its SENERtrough® parabolic trough system, with the presentation of its second generation, the SENERtrough® 2.
As for Torresol Energy, it will show off the expertise in solar plant operation and maintenance it has acquired from its experience with Gemasolar, the first solar plant in the world to combine central tower technology with a molten salt storage system and also on the other two projects, Valle 1 and Valle 2, two twin plants of parabolic trough technology, whose entrance into commercial operation celebrates this January one year.
In 2012, apart from having reached the milestone of supply capacity to the grid, both Torresol Energy and SENER have been recognized in several awards: in May, SENER was named finalist in the prestigious European Business Awards for the Environment, in its European Section, having won the final prize in the previous Basque and Spanish Sections; in June, Torresol Energy was nominated for the US CSP Today awards in the dispatchability category thanks to the Gemasolar plant and, in November, Torresol Energy won the final award in the Dispatchability Solution Category of the CSP Today Seville 2013 awards.
Spain’s Government is about to deal a death blow to the Spanish leadership in the Solar Thermal Electricity (STE) sector (also referred to as concentrated solar power or CSP), which contributed to Spanish GDP with €2084 millions, as it wants to change retroactively the regulatory framework under the projects were deployed.
The new law (Fiscal Law for Energy Sustainability) is under debate in the Senate without taking into account that the current regulation framework has made possible the deployment of this sector, making it attractive to investors from all over the world (US, UAE, Germany, France, Italy,…), thanks to a stable and proper regulation that made these investments a safe choice.
The Government is now about to change the rules “in the middle of the game”, what could create a legal mistrust of foreign investors about Spain and the Government would have to face to massive claims in the International Court of Arbitration, alongside with the damage to Spain’s image abroad and the influence in the risk premium of Spain’s sovereign bonds and debt. And all this just after Spain’s PM Mariano Rajoy, had stressed the need to provide legal certainty to Spanish investments abroad, something that in accordance to international rules, foreign and local investors are requiring to Spain.
A measure to be included in the law is to reduce the premium the STE plants receive because of the natural gas these plants need to achieve a better performance. This reduction jointly with the proposed 7% tax to the incomes would produce a dramatic impact in the plants benefits, which would see the net incomes decreased by a 22%.
The proposed law, instead of offering a new framework to which companies that are promoting new projects could try to tailor the future plants operation, affects dramatically to current plants under operation or under construction, which will not have margin of action in any way.
Administration established the “rules of the game” to accurately define the rights of stakeholders; among others, the right to use natural gas with a given limit to improve performance, while the whole generation would be incentivize. This was made so to allow the plants operators to achieve a reasonable profit, and to offer a stable regulation framework to promote the deployment of STE plants. This has been highlighted by the Administration numerous times during the past years, and this has made the investors (local and abroad) to decide to invest in the STE sector.
Once the costs and financing conditions were established and the plants are under operation, these regulatory changes will result in an actual damage easily to prove.
Much to our regret, the debate is not focusing in the discriminatory and retroactive nature of the measures proposed neither in the “reasonable profits” that the “Law of Electric Sector” says have to be guaranteed. Not even in the loss for the companies’ current value and financing conditions.
This has become a “matter of survival”. Nobody wants these investments to be thwarted, especially in the current economical context of Spain. Because of these reasons, at Protermosolar we think the Government will modify the proposed law to avoid the strongly discriminatory and destructive measures for the STE sector.
Spain is currently running the 70% of global STE market, which has a foreseeable billionaire market to come all over the world. Spanish companies are being awarded with important contracts for STE plants abroad, providing economic returns to Spain and improving the country’s image abroad. But these prospects will be curbed with the new proposed law.
According to the information gathered from STE companies in Spain during 2011, for every euro the sector has received trough incentives, it has returned five to the GDP, it has returned two euros in taxes, imports savings and avoided unemployment subsidies. STE sector has received €427 millions in incentives through Feed-in-Tariff to the electricity production, and it has returned €2084 millions to GDP, €564 millions to taxes , it has avoided €78 millions in fuel imports, emissions’ rights, and it has also avoided €213 millions in unemployment subsidies.