Plans by Morocco to generate an additional 500 MW from two new concentrating solar power plants moved a notch higher on September 24, when a US$ 1 billion deal was signed for construction of one of the plants by the end of the year.
Morocco’s state solar energy agency, MASEN, signed the contract for the 160 MW CSP plant, the first of the planned plants with a consortium led by Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power International which will own 95 % of the facility under a build, own, operate and transfer model. Spain’s ARIES and TSC will own 5 % of the project. The two 500 MW plants, to be sited near Quarzazate on a 2,500 hectare chunk of land, are among the five planned by the North Africa desert nation by 2020 at an estimated cost of US$ 9 billion. They will have a combined capacity of 2,000 MW.
MASEN’s head Mustapha Bakkoury said construction of the new 160 MW plant will start at the end of the year and be completed by 2014. He added that the ACWA consortium beat three other bidders including Italy’s Enel to win the contract after quoting 0.14 €/ kWh, 27 % less than the nearest competitor. Bakkoury reported that the project has financial backing of a consortium of lenders, among them the World Bank, African Development Bank, European Investment Bank, French Development Agency and Germany’s KfW. The German government and the European Commission have also given grants of € 15 million and € 30 million respectively for the project.
MASEN, the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy has announced Saudi’s ACWA in a consortium with Spain’s TSK and Aries have been awarded to build and operate the 160 MW Ouarzazate CSP plant in southern Morocco.
The consortium has passed the two rounds since in the last quarter 2010, MASEN unveiled a call for tenders. 19 bidders were selected in the first round and three in the second.
For the development of technical and economical offer and the subsequent construction of the plant, the consortium signed a joint venture with TSK-Acciona-SENER.
The Ouarzazate project will be one of the largest concentrated solar power plant in the world, with 160 MW of output power and 4 hours of thermal storage with molten salts, which will enable the plant to dispatch energy on demand to cover peak-consumption hours even after the sundown, a feature that other renewable energies can’t afford.
This is the first phase for a more ambitious plan to develop solar energy in Morocco in the Ouarzazate site and other regions in the country with financing support from World Bank and African Development Bank.
The three Spanish firms, TSK, Acciona and SENER have provided to ACWA, the consortium leader, a large experience and know-how in engineering, construction, commissioning and operation of concentrated solar power plants with thermal energy storage that probably no others can provide.
The success of Spanish companies is a result of the support to R&D for more than 30 years and the support for commercial deployment of this technology from Spanish government in the last years. This has made possible to Spanish companies to establish as leaders in the global market.
South Africa, US, Australia, UAE, India are already developing concentrated solar power projects, and in the short term countries like France, Italy, Cyprus, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Chile among others, are announcing to develop the first projects.
Ouarzazate plant will use parabolic trough technology. SENERtrough®, the solar collector assembly developed by SENER, a proven performance and cost optimized trough already installed in some Spanish plants, will be deployed in this plant.
Arvada - SkyFuel, Inc. was honored with the 2012 Technology Award at the annual SolarPACES conference, held this year in Marrakech. The award was made for the development of ReflecTechPLUS - a high reflectance, durable, silvered polymer film designed to reduce the lifecycle cost of parabolic trough solar fields. ReflecTechPLUS is the first reflective film that has proven to be durable outdoors for more than 30 years and incorporates an abrasion resistant coating. The film was developed by ReflecTech, Inc. in collaboration with the U.S. National Renewable Energy Lab.The advantages of ReflecTechPLUS for the concentrating solar power (CSP) industry are most clearly demonstrated in their application in SkyFuel's parabolic trough concentrator. The SkyTrough was designed from the ground up to capitalize on the features of ReflecTechPLUS. In contrast to glass-based mirrors, which rely on four or more individually mounted facets to fill the collector's aperture, SkyTrough's ReflecTech-based reflectors are monolithic, flexible, and lightweight; and slide quickly into focus on precise parabolic guide rails attached to an aluminum space frame. These advantages not only make the concentrator more optically efficient and robust; they also make it less expensive to manufacture, ship, and install. SolarPACES Executive Secretary Christoph Richter commented, "SkyFuel's ReflecTechPLUS has made a real contribution to the CSP industry by making available a material that improves project economics as well as environmental profile". ReflecTechPLUS contains no lead, and has cradle-to-grave embodied energy that is four times lower than curved glass mirrors."Our abrasion resistant coating has been lab-tested and field-tested with great results," said Randy Gee, SkyFuel's Chief Technology Officer. "We are honored to receive the SolarPACES Technology Award, and share the honor with our technical collaborators at RedSpot and NREL."
Nuremberg - Flabeg, the international market leader and manufacturer of solar mirrors, has developed an anti-soiling coating for solar mirrors. duraGLARE distinguishes itself with its property of repelling dust and sand from the surface of mirrors. Dirt on mirrors is thus reduced by up to 50 per cent against solar panels which are not coated. The duraGLARE coating continues to attract customers thanks to its simplified cleaning process. Washing cycles can be carried out without costly machinery, thus clearly saving on resources such as manpower and water.
"Power plant operators benefit in more ways than one with duraGLARE," explains Felix Schwarberg, Project Manager in the Flabeg Research and Development Division. "Based on calculations made by the German Aeronautics and Space Center (DLR), an increase in reflection of each percentage is equivalent to a surplus of 0.7 million euros," the Project Manager points out before adding: "At an additional profit of up to two per cent, power plant operators thus clearly gain with duraGLARE and the resulting increase in average reflection."
Alternatively, further cost potentials in the solar field can be exploited. The enhanced performance of the collectors means that the effective solar area can be made smaller. The need for collectors and their components is reduced, making cost-cutting in the million range possible, irrespective of the size of a power plant.
Developers have been subjecting DuraGLARE to testing for months now. A number of laboratory tests, some of them carried out as free tests, on coated mirrors in various climate zones worldwide, have confirmed the ambitious standards set. In addition to free tests carried out in the USA (Arizona, California and Florida), duraGLARE was also tested during operation in an existing solar power plant. These test results also support the claim that solar mirrors get far less soiled with duraGLARE, thus achieving higher levels of reflection for many years.
FLABEG is presenting duraGLARE for the first time at the SolarPACES CSP conference to be held in Morocco from September 11 to 14.
Madrid - The SENER engineering and technology group and its joint venture with Masdar, Torresol Energy, a company that specializes in technological development, construction, operation and maintenance of large concentrated solar power plants around the world, will once again attend the concentrated solar power (CSP) sector’s international conference, ‘SolarPACES 2012, Concentrated Solar Power and Chemical Energy Systems’, this year, when it is held in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh from September 11-14.
The globally renowned event is organized by the SolarPACES Network of the International Energy Agency (IEA), and has been running for more than 30 years. It brings together the main stakeholders in concentrated solar power. The purpose of SolarPACES is to serve as a forum for disseminating the new technological advances in the concentrated solar power sector and thus every conference is attended by the leading experts on this subject.
Torresol Energy and SENER's professionals from the CSP sector will present several technical papers at the conference. Torresol Energy's Technology Director, Juan Ignacio Burgaleta, together with process engineers, Antonio Ternero and David Vindal from the Gemasolar plant, will present the paper "Gemasolar, key points for the operation of the plant." It should be recalled that Gemasolar has now been in commercial operation for over a year, having been connected to the grid in May 2011. The significance of this facility — which belongs to Torresol Energy and is the first commercial concentrated solar power plant with central tower receiver and molten salt storage technology — continues to spark interest in the international solar power sector.
Meanwhile, SENER's technicians will give three presentations on the latest technological innovations developed by the company's Engineering and Construction division. These include the paper entitled "Single tank thermal storage prototype," by the engineers Pablo Querol, Jonathan Olano, Ángel Pereña, Tomás Velasco, Jose E. Arévalo and Jesús María Lata, on optimizing thermal storage systems in CSP plants. Similarly, the engineers Elvira García and Roberto Calvo will present a paper on Gemasolar's first year in operation, entitled "One year operation experience of Gemasolar plant". Lastly, the Control Systems Section Head at SENER, José Ramón Villa, will discuss the PARIS solar plant cleaning system with a technical paper entitled "PARIS– A parabolic trough autonomous robotic cleaning system."
In addition to these three oral presentations, the engineers Sabin Fernández and Alfonso Acuñas will be displaying a technical poster with SENER's advances in its parabolic trough system, entitled "New optimized solar collector: SENERtrough-2 prototype loop".
Torresol Energy has three solar power plants operating in Spain: Gemasolar (mentioned above), and Valle 1 and Valle 2, two twin power plants with cylindrical parabolic technology that commenced commercial operation at the beginning of 2012. As for SENER, it is the worldwide leader in CSP technology, due both to its cutting-edge technological developments and to the sheer number of projects in its portfolio. To date, SENER has participated in 25 solar power plants in Spain, the US and India, representing 1500 MW of power either installed or in construction, and effectively saving 1,000,000 tons of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere every year. This includes plants with pioneering technology, such as Andasol 1 and Gemasolar itself.
Ivanpah Reaches Halfway Mark and Peak of Construction Employment
Ivanpah, the world’s largest solar thermal project, reached the halfway mark of construction as well as the peak of its construction workforce at the end of July! The project requires the work of skilled craft workers and engineers from a wide variety of trades and disciplines, including pipefitters, welders, millwrights, carpenters, electricians, laborers and civil engineers. With more than 2,100 construction workers and project support staff on site, the project is on track to be completed in 2013. See below for construction updates from June and July, satellite images and a recap on Ivanpah Media Day and a special guest visit from President Bill Clinton.
Updated Satellite Images Show Significant Solar Field Progress
Beginning in June 2012, we shared satellite images of Ivanpah that showed a new, unique view of the project. Just two months later, our new satellite images show measurable progress in the solar fields. The August 2012 image reflects the Unit 1 solar field with over 90% of the total 53,500 heliostats installed. The remaining 10% will be installed upon the completion of the Unit 1 power block construction activity, which is expected at the end of 2012. Bechtel construction workers are installing heliostats in the northeast corner of the Unit 2 solar field, near Metamorphic Hill, and pylon installation is underway in the Unit 3 solar field.
In the Common Area, the Pad Bonding Buildings (PBBs) and the Heliostat Assembly Building (HAB) continue to operate above full production capacity, assembling more than 500 heliostats each day. Thanks to the hard work of all workers involved in the heliostat process, the team installed the 100,000th steel pylons and the 50,000th heliostat by the end of last month. Southern California Edison is nearing completion of the 115 kV interconnection and Kern River Gas Transmission will complete the natural gas tie-in to Ivanpah in the coming weeks.
In the Unit 1 power block area, boilermakers continue to weld the interconnecting boiler pipe and wall panels. The team is on-track to begin hydro-testing in the fall, a test which confirms the integrity of the boiler by pressurizing the boiler with water. The tower crane, which was being used to lift up to 90 tons of materials, was dismantled and removed from Unit 1. On the ground, construction of the air-cooled condenser (ACC) continues with significant progress made on the main steam turbine exhaust duct, support steel and wall siding. The ACC allows Ivanpah to be "dry-cooled" versus wet-cooled, reducing water usage by more than 90 percent over conventional wet cooling systems. The team continues installing the remaining “balance of plant” equipment in the power block area.
More than 49,000 pylons and 48,000 heliostats are installed in Unit 1. Electricians continue to wire the heliostats together and connect them to the communication and power distribution units, or CPDU’s. The plant services building is complete and the heliostat-control software system, known as the Solar Field Integrated Control System (SFINCS), has been installed in the plant services building.
In the Unit 2 power block area, the boiler protection panels have been installed and boilermakers continue welding the interconnecting boiler pipe and wall panels. On the ground, the construction of the ACC and the plant services building is under way, and the auxiliary boiler foundation has been set. In the Unit 2 solar field, more than 50,000 pylons and 8,000 heliostats have been installed. The team initiated the cable installation work necessary to support wiring of the heliostats together and connect them to the CPDU’s.
In the Unit 3 power block area, the team set the steam drum into place in late July and erected the boiler panels. The tuned mass damper has been installed, a device that is mounted in tall structures to reduce the tower movement caused by wind or seismic activity. On the ground, construction continues on the ACC, the plant services building and the auxiliary boiler.
Source: BrightSource Energy
The German Start-up Am-Brain GmbH has developed a new solar collector for CSP power plants. The core component of the Ambrain named collector is the K125-RS, which is a new solar reflector based on the Linear Fresnel Reflector (LFR) principle and has been proved in laboratory tests. The patented system consists of mechanically curved float glass reflectors and an auto focus system steered by a software programme.
The stagnation temperature of one single K125-RS has reached 525°C in a field test in Aachen, Germany, a location of relatively low direct solar irradiation. Therefore the system can provide enough heat to generate electricity by a superheated steam turbine. According to Am-Brain the temperature was reached with a 10 times concentration of the sunlight.
Contrary to conventional Linear Fresnel Collectors Am-Brain does not use any secondary reflector to avoid shading on the receiver as well as negative astigmatism effects. The company claims that their system can produce 30 % more energy compared to conventional LFR systems.The sourcing of Am-Brain´s system components emphasises the local supply of material world wide. For example float glass mirrors can be procured everywhere globally.
Am-Brain will make a formal presentation of its technology at the Solar Paces Conference on September 11 – 14, 2012 in Marrakesh, Morocco. The company plans to sign license agreements with companies in different countries.
Valladolid - The HITECO project, co funded by the European Program FP7, aims to develop a new solar receiver that will increase the parabolic-trough efficiency, reaching an operating temperature above the current limit of 400º C of the heat transfer fluid. HITECO's new concept of solar receivers for high temperature will reduce the cost of the energy produced in CSP (Concentrated Solar Power) plants, guaranteeing excellent performance during its working life.
The HITECO Project presented its preliminary results at the 'Efficiency Increase and Cost Reduction in CSP Technologies' summit last June, with the presence of a large representation of the main companies and stakeholders. The distinguished Dr. Eckhard Lüpfert (DLR) shared his view on the state-of-the-art CSP and expressed the need for quality assurance in the solar collector field. Additionally, Manuela Bistolfi, coordinator of the E2phest2us Project, exhibited some of the most innovative solar energy applications at high temperatures.
The workshop started with an overview of FP7 – Energy Theme by the European Commission Officer, Piero de Bonis, including an outline of the different European projects in the CSP field. It was then followed by the general presentation of HITECO's objectives, activities and expected results, which served as an introduction to the different technical presentations of HITECO's preliminary results.
The HITECO presentations covered different relevant optical and thermal modeling of the receiver, the development of the solar selective coatings and the develop of preindustrial facilities for the application of these coatings in steel tubes and studies about the welding process in borosilicate glass tubes with applications in solar industry. These technical presentations were complemented by a presentation of the results of another relevant FP7 project of the CSP field “E2PHEST2US - Enhanced Energy Production of Heat and Electricity by a combined Solar Thermionic-Thermoelectric Unit System”. All presentations are available for download at the project's website (www.hitecoproject.com). The HITECO project will hold a new workshop at the end of the project (expected in autumn 2013) to present its final results.
Gothenburg - A recently published study confirms that solar thermal power is largely unrestricted by materials availability. There are, however, some issues that the industry needs to look into soon, like replacing silver in mirrors.
In the wake of Chinese export restrictions on rare earth metals, the dependence of some renewable technologies on scarce materials has gained attention. Several players in the wind and PV industry are struggling to get away from excessive use of restricted elements, such as indium or rare earth metals. Meanwhile, there has been a shared notion amongst solar scientists and industry that Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) should “probably” be less restricted, being built mainly on commonplace commodities like steel and glass.
A recently published study from Chalmers University of Technology has gone into the details on material issues for CSP. The main conclusion is that CSP does indeed seem to be largely unrestricted, viewing the material requirements compared to the global reserves. In theory, enough solar plants could be built to cover – at the very least – five times the current global electricity demand.
However, the report also highlights some issues that are likely to pose challenges to the industry. The main point of concern is that silver, today extensively used for reflecting surfaces, will most likely be in short supply in the coming decades even without demand from a booming CSP industry. CSP mirror manufacturers might have to look at other reflective surface materials, such as aluminium, to secure cost competitiveness.
“The prospects for strong growth for CSP over the next few decades seem good, but would cause a stir on the global commodity markets”, says Dr Erik Pihl, lead author of the scientific article.
Following a Greenpeace/IEA SolarPACES/ESTELA growth scenario where CSP reaches 8000 TWh/year in 2050, the solar plants would consume up to 50-120% of today’s yearly nitrate salt production, and 5-15% of several common materials such as glass, nickel, magnesium and molybdenum.
The report has used data directly from plant manufacturers Cobra and eSolar for trough and tower plants. These plants have somewhat different characteristics when it comes to material use.
“Parabolic trough plants tend to use a lot of concrete and iron, while the concept of small heliostat tower plants has a higher use of aluminium and stainless steel,” says Erik Pihl. “The common design of a parabolic trough plant also requires more molten salt per MW than a salt-receiver tower plant, even when the former has fewer storage hours. That means that trough plants appear slightly more sensitive than tower plants to possible salt production bottlenecks, unless other storage techniques can be employed.”
Erik Pihl believes that we can expect to see material demands for plants decreasing as we go for higher steam temperatures and increased plant efficiency.
“We see that clearly when comparing a mature design to a novel concept. That does not automatically mean that all material restriction problems will be solved. We might trade a large use of common materials for small quantities of scarce elements. It comes down to what alloys we use in pipes, receivers and turbines.”
Higher temperatures means more use of high quality steels, but alloy materials such as molybdenum and niobium have restrictions in both stock and production.
“There might be enough for CSP alone, but there are many other uses”, says Erik Pihl. “That could be a problem in the more distant future. In the short term, substituting silver and increasing nitrate salt production should be the first priority.”