Archive for January 2008

The world´s largest PV solar plant open in Southern Spain

January 31, 2008

With an installed peak power of 23 MW (updated), the solar park at Jumilla, Murcia (Southeastern Spain) is the world’s current highest capacity PV plant and the most efficient to-date.

It took a team of 400 people 11 months to build the Jumilla plant, where 120,000 solar panels are grouped into 200 separate photovoltaic arrays -owned by different investors- to convert light from the sun into electricity. It’s expected to generate an estimated annual income of $28 million (€19 million) and a reduction in CO2 emissions of 42,000 tons a year.


The plant covers an area of 100 hectares in La Hoya de Vicentes, Jumilla, (see picture) where the local Mayor says 300 days of sun a year are guaranteed. Its total annual production will be the equivalent of the energy used by 20,000 homes.

The project developer was Luzentia Group. Luzentia awarded the construction of the park to Elecnor, a company with a solid background in engineering and the solar industry. The solar arm of Elecnor, Atersa, worked as the systems integrator, with solar panels coming from different firms, due to the size of the project. Besides Atersa, the other providers were Solon, Yingli, Suntech and Ningbo.

Powerlight (Sunpower Corp.) provides its patented single-axis solar trackers to improve the system´s performance.

Different measures were taken following the recommendations from a local association, Juncellus, to ensure high environmental criteria in the construction of the plant. They included replanting an area of almost 5.4 thousand square yards around the plant, water deposits for fires, drinking troughs for birds and other such details.

According to the figures given by the Spanish Minister of Industry at its inauguration earlier this month, renewable energy currently accounts for around 7% of the total primary energy produced in the country, and will reach 10% in 2010 if biomass production is added onto the energy produced by solar and wind farms. Spain will be able to reach the European Union’s target of a 20% share by 2020, he said.


Spanish Renewable Energy trade mission to the USA

January 26, 2008

During a business breakfast organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in Spain last week, the US Ambassador, Eduardo Aguirre, announced a trade mission of Spanish companies in the field of renewable energies, with the objective of attracting investments to the USA.

The Spanish delegation, comprising about a dozen wind and solar companies and top Spanish Government officials is visiting Feb. 12 through 14. They will fly to Washington to meet their American counterparts. Then, they will go on to Colorado, where executives from Iberdola and Abengoa Solar (among others) will visit the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden and meet American companies and State officials in Denver.

Mr. Aguirre, who mentioned companies such as Iberdrola, Acciona o Gamesa as leaders at the forefront of the clean energy revolution that is sweeping the planet, said that the support of renewable energies will be a ¨strategic priority¨ for the U.S. Mission in Spain.

He brought up the International Conference on Renewable Energy (WIREC 2008) that the American Government is sponsoring next March in Washington as a good opportunity to share ideas for the development of this industry.

He added that the United States attracted last year $10,000 million dollars in investment projects in the field of renewable energy, as a sign of the vitality of this market.

Spanish companies plan to spend $7 billion to $10 billion in the United States on renewable-energy projects over the next few years, has said Paul Bergman, of the U.S. Department of Commerce in Denver.

Abengoa Solar, one of the members of the delegation, already has offices in Lakewood, Colorado (and San Francisco). The company plans to triple its size in the state by hiring more employees next year as it begins to work on utility-scale solar projects in Colorado and nationwide.

Incidentally, the U.S. Department of Energy recently selected three projects proposed by Abengoa Solar (formerly known as Solucar) to increase the efficiency of CSP technologies.

This website from the U.S. Commercial Service includes a fully detailed description of the mission participants.

Spain and Portugal sign Green car partnership

January 22, 2008

During a recent bilateral meeting for the groundbreaking of a cutting-edge cooperation project, the future INL (International Iberian Nanotechnology Center), Portugal and Spain also made an announcement concerning the automotive industry.

The two countries want to create the first green car in the Iberian peninsula, hoping to generate 150 million euros worth of investment and 800 new jobs in the region’s motor industry.

Spanish Minister for Industry Joan Clos said that the goal was to build an alternative to the high-polluting vehicles currently on the roads of Spain and Portugal.

“We want to create the technology that will allow us to consume the least amount of gasoline possible,” said Clos. “At this point there are high expectations (for the green car).”

Experts say oil prices close to $100 a barrel make it more attractive to invest in cars that can run on electricity or hydrogen fuel cells.

green-car.jpg The Mobi-green car, as the vehicle is named, is being developed by two automotive research centers in Portugal (CEIIA) and Spain (CTAG) using funds from both the public and private sectors.

The head of Portugal‘s CEIIA research center, Braz Costa, said he hoped to produce a prototype by the end of the year. He said the car’s engine was likely to run on hydrogen fuel cells but an electric engine remained an option.

“Our goal is to create an environmentally friendly car that can be produced with technology from Portugal and Spain,” Costa told Reuters.

We are involving the private sector to take on the challenge of producing the car in the long-run and sell it to consumers,” he said. Costa said demand for green cars would rise as pressure to cut carbon dioxide emissions mounted on governments around the world.

“There is a paradigm shift. There are drastic changes taking place in the economy and the way we view transportation,” said Braz Costa. “When governments decide to charge an environment tax on high-polluting vehicles we are certain drivers will start looking for alternative ways of transportation.”

BP Solar to Build the Largest Module Assembly Factory in Europe in Puertollano

January 21, 2008

After announcing a huge expansion of its cell plant at its European manufacturing headquarters in Tres Cantos (Madrid) last March, BP Solar will invest $145 million to build in Puertollano (Castilla La Mancha) the largest module assembly factory in the Old Continent.

The new plant will use state-of-the-art technology to manufacture photovoltaic solar modules. The production capacity, in phase one, would be up to 300 MW per year, which means enough energy to meet the needs of between 150,000 and 200,000 homes and a saving of approximately 420,000 tons in CO2 emissions per year. A further possibility, once the phase one is in production, is the implementation of a second phase expansion of the plant to reach production capacity of up to 500 MW.  

The BP Solar factory in Puertollano is expected to generate 500-600 direct new jobs, with an eventual increase of 400 additional jobs in the second phase. The opening of the factory will set a benchmark in technological development in the field of the large-scale production of photovoltaic modules worldwide.  

An example of cooperation

logobp.gifAlfredo Barrios, chairman of BP Group in Spain said regarding this plant: “This project has been made possible thanks to the support from the central, regional and local governments. These institutions have worked, alongside BP Solar, to help deliver a project that will provide numerous social benefits through job creation and also the development of a sustainable environment.”

Certainly, local authorities have bet hard on Solar Energy, with R+D initiatives such as the ISFOC or Institute of Concentration Photovoltaics Systems  (see here our recent post on the topic) and their efforts seem to be paying off.

This is the only the latest of a string of announcements that confirm the attractiveness of the region and city (Puertollano) for all sorts of ventures related to solar power (besides standard PV and CPV, there are also projects in solar thermal power and production of silicon wafers and ingots). 

About BP Solar:

BP Solar produces solar cells and PV modules using monocrystalline and polycrystalline technology. BP Solar has production plants in the United States, Spain, India, Australia and China. It has a workforce of approximately 2,200 all over the world, of which 550 are currently employed in Spain.  


Acciona Celebrates Completion of First Wind Turbine Production Plant in U.S.

January 20, 2008

Acciona celebrated last week (Thursday 17th) the opening of its first wind turbine generator production plant in the United States.

Acciona Windpower invested $23 million to acquire the former Sauer-Danfoss hydraulics plant and expand it by 100,000 square feet to assemble wind turbines. The facility measures a total of 200,190 square feet.

The project was constructed in seven months. Acciona’s North America Vice President of Manufacturing Adrian LaTrace said this was the “fastest-built wind turbine plant” in the company’s 100-year history.

170108_westbranch.jpgIowa Governor Chet Culver, Sandy Hatfield, Mayor of West Branch, and University of Iowa President, Sally Mason, joined company executives and guests for the facility’s official dedication.

Peter Duprey, CEO of Acciona Energy North America Corp., said the company will create 100 new jobs right away, and 1,300 total by 2010. About 60 employees already have been hired, and visitors could glance up at the first nacelle produced in the plant.

In its first year, the plant is expected to produce 250 wind turbines, with plans to increase production to 400 turbines per year in the future. Those numbers will increase Acciona Energy’s power production to 2,600 megawatts a year. The new plant at West Branch is Acciona’s fourth installed, with two plants currently operational in Spain and one in China.

“We’re pleased to create new growth opportunities” Duprey said during a ceremony in front of about 200 community and business leaders, Acciona employees and Senior executives from Acciona’s management team in Spain. Also present were the Ambassador Javier Ruperez, Consul General of Spain in Chicago and Enrique Alejo, Spanish Trade Commissioner. They took the opportunity of visiting the state to meet with different state officials to strengthen the economic ties between Iowa and Spain.


Acciona´s wind turbine manufacturing plant in Navarra, Spain

The facility will supply turbines primarily for Acciona Energy wind farms throughout North America and will utilize proprietary technology from its wind turbine manufacturing subsidiary, Acciona Windpower, to produce its AWP 1.5-77 models. A 1.5 megawatt turbine can provide electricity to 4,500 homes. The plant is prepared to accomodate the production of a 3 megawatt turbine that is currently in development.

Surrounded by the gigantic parts that go into a wind turbine, Gov. Chet Culver and other area leaders praised Acciona Energy not only for job creation and economic development, but also for helping offer more renewable energy to the world. Gov. Culver has made energy independence for Iowa one of his major goals. Acciona’s plant will be the third wind facility in the state, following a Clipper manufacturer in Cedar Rapids and a Siemens wind turbine plant being built in Fort Madison.

The United States is a hot market for wind power. The American Wind Energy Association said total wind generation capacity in the country increased by a record 45 percent in 2007.

Acciona’s parent company has become part of that boom. It recently completed its largest wind development, the 180-megawatt Tatanka wind project on the border of North Dakota and South Dakota. Acciona also has launched Nevada Solar One, a 64-megawatt solar thermal power plant that is the largest built worldwide in 17 years

(All photos courtesy of Acciona)

SEPA Tour of CSP plants in Spain

January 19, 2008

This story from Renewable Energy Access links to a couple of interesting files I had missed until a co-worker, Brian, tipped me off last week.

Mike Taylor, Director of Research at Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA), recently accompanied the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) on a tour of concentrating solar power plants and research facilities in Spain. SEPA has made available a multimedia presentation showcasing these projects.

The presentation summarizes some CSP basics with a rundown of the current technologies and the US projects outlook.

Then, it provides an explanation of public policies in Spain and an abbreviated tour of the three locations they visited in Sevilla (PS-10 and PS-20), Granada (Andasol), and Almeria (PSA), all provinces in the region of Andalusia, Southern Spain.

The first two locations visited are commercial projects, whereas the third, the PSA (frequently featured here) is a Research center testing many different technologies (in the way of the Sandia National Laboratory, NM).


SolFocus Installs First Solar Array for 3 MW Spanish CPV Project

January 17, 2008

SolFocus, manufacturer of solar energy solutions including concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) systems and Spain‘s Institute of Concentration Photovoltaics Systems (ISFOC) announced two days ago the installation of the first CPV array in the ISFOC’s 3 MW project in Castilla-LaMancha.




SolFocus CPV Array installed at ISFOC power field in Puertollano, Spain. (Courtesy of SolFocus)



The ISFOC project is sponsored by the government of Castilla-La Mancha. Its program supports participating companies by carrying out important R&D efforts on their installed systems. This includes studies and norms, developments on measurement technology for large systems, reliability testing, maintenance, and analysis of solar radiation and energy produced.

The companies awarded the first 1.7MW phase of CPV pilot plants were Isofoton (Spain – 700kW), SolFocus (US – 500kW), and Concentrix (Germany – 500kW).


800_sol3g.jpgIn November 2007 a 1,3 MW second phase to complete the program was awarded to Sol3g (Spain – 400kW) and Concentración Solar La Mancha (Spain), EMCORE Corp. (US) and Arima Eco (Taiwan) – 300kW each.


HCPV System by Sol3g, another of the companies working in Castilla-La Mancha with ISFOC

According to Dr. Pedro Banda, Director General of the ISFOC, “This is a very important occasion as it brings the industry one step closer towards commercial deployment of CPV technologies. For this unprecedented and ambitious program, the ISFOC has selected CPV technologies that are the most advanced and have the brightest futures.” He added, “SolFocus’ first installation marks the official launch of the power-generation phase of the program.”

SolFocus, with European headquarters in Madrid and United States headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., has over 40kW of test arrays installed at various sites.

The ISFOC was established in 2006 to be a center of reference on the power, reliability and productivity of commercial CPV systems. The innovative approach taken by the ISFOC is becoming a model for similar projects under consideration around the world.