Archive for January 2009

The Basque Country to provide a home for Europe’s most modern wave energy platform

January 31, 2009

Regional president Juan José Ibarretxe recently presided over the presentation and laying of the foundation marine buoy for what will eventually be BIMEP (the Biscay Marine Energy Platform), a platform for research into electricity generating equipment in the Basque Country (Spain) using wave power. To be installed on the Vizcaya coast at Arminza, the new 20 MW platform will supply electricity to 6000 homes in the region.  

During the presentation of this new infrastructure, Ibarretxe made a reference to other energy projects under way in the area, including the pilot wave power station at Motrico, the Atlas of the waves project, designed to evaluate the sea’s potential for generating energy off the Basque coast as a means of identifying locations for future facilities, the European Waveplam project, involving Europe’s leading energy agencies and the Oceantec project to come up with a prototype for electricity generation using the power of the waves. 

The platform

The caress of the sea - Originally posted by Msanfel

Given its unique characteristics, the Biscay Marine Energy Platform, or BIMEP, has been launched to become a benchmark in the wave energy industry.  Scotland also has a similar platform, though smaller in scale and more limited than this one opened in the Basque Country. Conditions in the Biscay Bay, with mid to heavy waves, are ideal for running this kind of project.

Developers of sea-based electricity generation equipment will be testing their wave converters at a site specifically created for their prototype testing and trials. Besides transferring energy generated by the waves to land, this will also enable the developers to use optic fiber lines to access all kinds of valuable data on performance, energy production and reliability in their research and for improvements to the harnesses. To facilitate the work, a research center at the charming coastal village of Arminza is envisaged. Equipped with cutting-edge monitoring systems, the center will provide the ideal workstation for between 20 and 30 world-class researchers in the next four or five years. Conceived as the most advanced of its kind in Europe and promoted by the Basque Energy Board EVE, the platform is expected to cost around 15 million euros (almost $20 million). 

Basically, the project has been designed to attract the world’s main marine technology producers as a way of stimulating research into wave-power harnessing devices and, at the same time, as a tool of economic development for the Basque economy. 

For a presentation with all the marine energy projects being developed in the Basque Country, click here


Financing secured for Gemasolar power tower from Torresol Energy

January 25, 2009

During Abu Dhabi’s World Future Energy Summit, Torresol Energy announced that it has secured a EUR 171 million (US$221 million) financing deal to allow construction to begin on Gemasolar, the world’s first utility grade solar power plant with central tower and salt receiver technology. With this operation, Torresol now has the entire €240 million (US$309 million) it needs to build the plant, located in Fuentes de Andalucia, Seville.

Torresol Energy is an alliance between Spanish engineering group SENER and Abu Dhabi-based renewable energy initiative Masdar

Funding was secured through the open market with Banco Popular, Banesto and the Instituto de Credito Oficial acting as mandated lead arrangers.

The Gemasolar plant will be operational in 2011 and produce around 17 MW of energy a year. The project is the first to use central tower and salt receiver technology in a commercial environment, as an alternative to cylindrical-parabolic commercial solar thermal plants.

An engineering, procurement and construction contract has been awarded to a consortium, including SENER and Spanish engineering company AMSA (part of ACS Cobra Group). In the consortium, SENER will be in charge of providing the technology, the detail design and commissioning of the plant. The technology chosen uses heliostats to focus sunlight on to a solar receiver at the top of a tower. This receiver is able to absorb 95 percent of the radiation from the sun’s spectrum and transmit the energy to the salt compound circulating within the receiver. SENER will also provide its trademark Sensol software for sizing and optimizing the plant and the thermal molten salts storage system.

The Gemasolar plant technology is expected to treble the electricity production from a traditional thermoelectric solar plant. The majority of thermoelectric plants don’t yet have a thermal storage system, while Gemasolar’s high temperature heat storage  extends the normal operating period of solar plants, giving it 15 hours of autonomy without sunlight.

Salts, made up of sodium and potassium nitrates, are kept molten using  solar energy collected from the heliostats. Excess accumulated heat is stored while the sun shines, making it possible to produce electricity even when there is not enough solar radiation. The high temperature at which the solar energy is captured in the salt receiver (over 500 degrees centigrade) also allows more pressurized and hotter steam, increasing the steam turbine’s performance.

SENER is working in four different thermosolar (or CSP) projects in Spain. Two of them are in Granada (Andalusia): Andasol 1, in operation, and Andasol 2, currently being built,  in a consortium with ACS-Cobra, and two other plants, Extresol 1 and 2, are being built in Extremadura.

It opened an office in San Francisco last year to actively explore opportunities for CSP plants in the Southwest of the United States.

Titan Tracker finishes a CPV project for the ISFOC

January 22, 2009

TITAN TRACKER in pv system

TITAN TRACKER has just completed a demonstration project for the delivery of a solar tracker for concentrating  photovoltaic systems (CPV) at the ISFOC facilities, a research center that is a world reference in that field, from the Castilla-La Mancha region in Spain. TITAN TRACKER is a technology firm specialized in the manufacturing and commercialization of dual-axis solar trackers. The product (Titan tracker 122-219 ATR Precision) is a new concept in solar trackers and has been developed for flat-plate and high concentrating photovoltaics (CPV),  offering high reliability and extreme accuracy.

It breaks with the usual design based on mounted-pole systems, and is claimed to offer improved benefits during the whole life-cycle of the installation. This cutting-edge technology provides a provides adjustable accuracy better than 0.01 degrees, thanks to the stiffness and rigidity of its 3D structure and a geometry based on five support points, making it possibly the most accurate and reliable solar tracker around the world.

It move continuously in azimuth, whereas the rest of the trackers move  intermittently with thousands of starts and stops every day, generating a stress which may seriously compromise  their reliability.

More advantages of the ATR Precision trackers:  The foundations are minimal, therefore important savings in materials (up to 35% less concrete and 85% less steel) can be achieved. Formwork is not needed, thereby reducing the need of specialized staff.

The main results of this project will be presented by TITAN TRACKER at the CPV Summit, an International Conference about concentrating solar technologies, which will take place in San Diego (California) next February (3 and 4).

Team Spain Unveils B&W House to Compete in 2009 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon

January 21, 2009

The Spanish team from the UPM (Universidad Politecnica de Madrid),  presented last week  the design of the solar-powered house that will take part in Solar Decathlon 2009. The UPM is coordinating the Spanish multi-disciplinary team of young engineers and architects in this fourth edition of the contest.

The prototype, named the B&W House, representing the balance between black and white, was presented on January 15, at the Cervantes Institute in New York City by Josep María Adell, Professor of Architecture at the Polytechnical University of Madrid (UPM) and project manager of Team SPAIN in the Solar Decathlon.

B&W House - Courtesy of UPM
B&W House – Courtesy of UPM

The B&W House’s design is based both on technical and bioclimatic criteria, using the latest technology.  The objective is to minimize the impact on the environment while achieving an atmosphere of optimal living inside.

The eventual construction will be a cubic, one-story building measuring 45 square meters (483 square feet) that supports a large solar panel capable of orienting itself to the sun during the day and resting in a horizontal position at night.

The house’s interior is a unique transportable module that includes all the technology needed for energy self-sufficiency, since not only is energy captured by the solar panel on the roof but also by vertical panels on the walls that also move in keeping with the Earth’s rotation.

The B&W House’s commercial costs will be much lower than those of a traditional house.  The design also offers the possibility of separately selling optimized products with independent functions.

The Solar Decathlon is a competition organized by the U.S. Department of Energy.  Universities all over the world can compete by designing their own solar prototype.  A solar city will be constructed at the Washington Mall in October where all the solar houses of the respective universities are displayed.  Each home will be judged on 10 criteria including style, innovation, efficiency, lighting design, engineering, market viability, appliances and home entertainment.

Once the competition is finished, the Spanish team plans to enlarge the house by adding another story between the ground floor and the self-adjusting roof, whose orientation to the sun is reminiscent of a sunflower.

The UPM has taken part in the Solar Decathlon on two previous occasions, finishing in fifth and ninth place in 2007 and 2005, respectively. “On this occasion we have to do better; we’re going to try to win,” Adell said.

He added that it would be good for Spain to have a strong performance ahead of the inaugural European version of this same competition in 2010.

“The UPM is working at the commission of the (Spanish) Housing Ministry to organize the Solar Decathlon Europe, which will be held in Madrid in 2010 and in which 21 universities from 10 countries are to participate,” the project director of that initiative, Sergio Vega, told Efe.

For more information about UPM and Team SPAIN visit

Navarra, Spain: A model for the development of renewable energy

January 19, 2009

Coat of arms of NavarraThe region of Navarra, Spain, which is known for its unique success in adopting alternative energies (see post here) is spearheading a conference and collaboration between the Government of Navarra and the NYU Center for Global Affairs. This conference will focus on alternative and renewable energy: Navarra’s successes in adapting to its use, and its implications for Europe and the world. The program will be followed by a reception featuring a tasting of wines from Navarra and a raffle for a trip to the region.

The conference will be held on Tuesday, January, 20th 2009, 6.00 to 7.30pm at The New York Times Building in the Conference Hall, 242 West 41st Street, New York, NY 10018.

The Keynote Speaker for the event is Miguel Sanz, president of Navarra, with Carolyn Kissane, clinical associate professor from the NYU Center for Global Affairs, as the moderator. Panelists are Jose Maria Roig, Navarra’s Regional Secretary for Innovation, Enterprise and Employment; Fernando Viana, managing partner of Viana & Associates LLC and Chris Gadomski, managing editor of New Energy Finance.

Spain is currently undergoing a renewable-energy revolution, with the Navarra region set to be the first in Europe to be self-sufficient in renewable energy. The US rating agency Standard & Poors, in a current investigation of standards of living in Europe, ranked Navarra, whose primary source of renewable energy is wind power, uppermost among the 17 autonomous regions of Spain. Navarra, Europe’s sixth largest producer of wind power, currently sustains approximately 70 % of its electricity needs from renewable energy sources, wind farms being used most extensively, and has a 900-megawatt capacity of installed wind power, ranking it ahead of the UK, Sweden, and France.

Navarra was entirely reliant on imported energy until the development of wind-power as a viable home-grown alternative. Now, it boasts a cluster of world class renewable energy companies mostly located around the the Spanish Center for Renewable Energy (CENER), such as Acciona Energy, the R+D division of Gamesa and the energy division of Ingeteam, or, out of that area, OPDE/Mecasolar (solar farms and trackers).

For information on Navarra region, contact or visit: Government of Navarra

Gold nanoparticles help make industrial dyes

January 15, 2009

8650lngroupA new environmentally friendly way to produce certain industrial dyes using gold nanoparticle catalysts has been developed by researchers in Spain.  Normally,  making dyes known as azobenzenes requires toxic transition metals or nitrates.

Avelino Corma and colleagues of the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia have shown that gold nanoparticles on titanium dioxide or cerium dioxide can catalyse the reactions necessary to produce azobenzenes. And this is with above 98% efficiency under mild reaction conditions. The technique could be used to make cheaper, safer dyes for use in pigments, food additives and drugs, say the researchers.

Corma says that the work could provide an environmentally friendly route to make industrial amounts of azo-compounds for dye manufacture. “We now need to do more work to better understand the mechanism and the exact nature of the catalyst active sites and improve yields for these asymmetric azo-materials.”

The work was published in Science.