Archive for April 2009

Albiasa Solar to build a 200 MW Concentrating Solar Power plant in Arizona

April 21, 2009

Albiasa Corporation has chosen Arizona as the new location for the renewable energy firm’s development headquarters and has selected a site near Kingman as the future location of its 200 megawatt (MW) concentrating solar power (CSP) plant. Assisted by the Arizona Department of Commerce, Albiasa’s projects are expected to create up to 2,000 construction jobs and more than 100 permanent jobs. The company recently opened a sales, marketing, and engineering office in Phoenix to serve as its Arizona headquarters. 

Albiasa, a Spanish company with operations in the U.S., has been in business since 1974 but began developing technology for concentrated solar power starting in 2004. The company has several photovoltaic solar plants in Spain and one 50-megawatt concentrated solar power plant  under construction.

“The arrival of Albiasa Corporation is yet another big step toward establishing Arizona as a leader in the sustainable industries sector, creating stable jobs that will help diversify our state’s economy,” said Governor Jan Brewer. “We are pleased to welcome Albiasa to Arizona, and commend the company for choosing our great state as the site for its solar plant”.

“Arizona is a natural location for our first major US project due to the solar and transmission resources,” said Jesse Tippett, Albiasa Corporation’s U.S. operations director. A good regulatory climate was also mentioned as a factor in the election of Arizona for this project.  “We look forward to doing business here, and thank the Department of Commerce and business attraction manager Verily Keenan and Mohave County for all they have done to make us welcome.”

Albiasa Solar has worked for years in Spain to improve the parabolic trough technology, making overall operation and cost of CSP more efficient.  The Albiasa trough collector has been assessed as the most efficient parabolic trough system in the world.

“The Albiasa Kingman project involves over $1 billion capital investment and will generate annually, with molten salt thermal storage, more than 665,000 MWh of renewable solar energy when completed in 2013,” said Albert Fong, Albiasa Corporation’s Chief Project Engineer. 

The state likely will see more such projects, as the Albiasa deal is one of several that Department of Commerce officials are working on, said Kent Ennis, interim director at the department. “We hope to soon announce several projects in the state,” he said. 

The plant is the second concentrated solar power facility to choose Arizona. Abengoa Solar announced last year it is building a 280-megawatt solar plant near Gila Bend that would sell power to Arizona Public Service.

Although the plant will be located in the state, power may go elsewhere. Tippett said Albiasa is negotiating with utilities in Arizona and elsewhere about buying the power.

Air space station for the Galapagos islands with almost zero environmental impact

April 14, 2009

The IT company Indra has developed an air space surveillance station whose environmental impact has been reduced to almost zero in the Galapagos islands (Ecuador), one of the areas with the strongest environmental laws in the world.

The new facilities are equipped with a secondary radar system located on the San Joaquín hill, in San Cristobal Island. UNESCO  has designated the area as a World Heritage Site, to protect it from excessive human ecological footprint.  Two centuries ago, the island’s flora and fauna diversity contributed to shape Darwin’s  Theory of evolution.

Nowadays the archipelago is a National Park rigorously protected by Ecuador’s authorities. For this reason, Indra had to be careful in order to avoid damaging the environment. The company was extremely observant of the standards regarding electromagnetic issues as established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). It also conducted a study of environmental impact prior to the works to obtain the license conferred by the country’s Ministry of the Environment and worked alongside the National Park’s technicians who supervised the works at all times.

Landscape HDR - Galapagos

Landscape HDR - Galapagos

That proved the way for Indra to meet all environmental requirements and overcame the added difficulty of the remoteness of the area, located at 621 miles off Ecuador’s mainland, which implies a significant amount of logistics obstacles. To deal with this, the company appointed a team of 12 people, most of them from Ecuador and others from the island itself.

The team worked for several months ensuring that accesses, materials, energy systems and equipment employed had a minimum impact on the environment. Even the colors used were chosen to make the station mimetize with the surrounding environment.

The area where the station is located is home to many species of birds, including the black neck stilt (tero), a bird that builds its nests  n the ground. Therefore, practically all systems used in the project are aerial structures mounted on poles. The main radar is enclosed in a sphere so birds do not crash against it.

Ecuador’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation is now equipped with a new system to survey Galapagos’ air space whose air traffic management depended on radio communications that also supported aircrafts in their approach to San Cristobal and Baltra airports until now. It will also control the ocean corridor that joins the archipelago with mainland completing Ecuador’s control area.

The data collected through the radar system will be distributed via VSAT satellite terminals and through a microwave link so that airports in the island and the control centres in Guayaquil are able to supervise all the traffic.

The new station will undergo an annual environmental audit to make sure standards are being met.

Alstom moves wind energy HQ to Barcelona and mulls growth in the US and Asia

April 1, 2009

French multinational company Alstom is to transfer from Switzerland to Barcelona its wind energy subsidiary, Alstom executive vice president Philippe Joubert confirmed in an interview with Spanish newspaper Expansion. The division will be set up in Ecotècnia facilities at Barcelona’s 22@ technology district. The company, which employs about a 1,000 workers, will work on its international expansion from its new headquearters, Mr. Joubert said.

Alstom has also hired business executive Alfonso Faubel who will become the CEO for Alstom Ecotècnia Wind. The French group entered the wind energy business in 2007 with the acquisition of Spanish wind turbine company Ecotècnia, in a deal valued at 350 million euros.

Why Barcelona? “It’s where we have the know-how in this business and and we need to regroup to face the difficulties of the moment,” said Joubert. “The process of integration with Ecotècnia has been completed very successfully,” added the president of Alstom in Spain, Antonio Oporto. 

Ecotècnia has installed over 1,500MW of cumulated capacity in seven countries (Spain, France, Italy, Portugal, India, Cuba and Japan). Alstom Ecotecnia has equipped or is equipping over 72 wind farms, over 50 of which are located in Spain.  Alstom Ecotècnia has also developed a wind farm construction activity in Spain that contributes to generating turbine sales.

The executive vice president of Alstom considers the current situation a good opportunity to consider purchasing opportunities in the wind business.  “We want to double the size of Ecotècnia in the coming years”.

Alstom Ecotecnia 100“We are considering multiple purchases in United States and Asia, probably in China,” said Philippe Joubert. The company is developing larger turbines for these markets. It just installed in Barcelona the first unit of its new model: Ecotècnia 100. With its 100 meter rotor diameter, the new Ecotècnia 100 turbine has a power output of 3MW. 

“The wind energy market has been the hardest hit by funding problems, but will also be the first out of the crisis,” said Oporto. “We are not yet a major player in the wind business, but we have gained many years´advantage with the purchase of Ecotècnia,” says Joubert. The subsidiary has a market share of approximately 10% in Spain, but aims to control 5% of the global market in the coming years.