Archive for the ‘Concentrating Solar Power (CSP)’ category

Abengoa Solar signs contract with PG&E to supply 250 MW of solar power in California

October 31, 2009

Abengoa Solar signs Power Purchase Agreement with PG&E for a 250-megawatt concentrating solar power (CSP) project to be built in California, 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles, near Harper Dry Lake. The California Energy Commission is reviewing the Application for Certification to license the 1,765-acre CSP project.

Abengoa Solar announces the signing of a power purchase agreement with Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) to supply the electricity generated by the new solar plant “Mojave Solar.” The project will generate 250 megawatts (MW) of Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) and is to be located in an unincorporated area of San Bernardino County, between Barstow and Kramer Junction, approximately nine miles northwest of Hinkley, and 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles. The project is expected to bring 1,200 green construction jobs and, when completed, approximately 80 permanent jobs to this desert area.

Once it starts operating in 2013, it will generate nearly as much electricity as all of California’s present-day commercial CSP installations combined, enough to power about 90,000 average homes, and avoid over 431 kilotons per year of greenhouse gas emissions.

On August 10, 2009, Abengoa Solar filed an Application for Certification with the California Energy Commission for its Mojave Solar Project. The project has been deemed data adequate by the CEC and public meetings are anticipated to begin in December.

Santiago Seage, CEO of Abengoa Solar explained that “Mojave Solar is a project we have been working on for several years. The permitting and engineering effort is very advanced and we are very proud to partner with PG&E to make this project a reality.”

The project will be sited on 1,765 acres of private, previously disturbed land that had been farmed since the 1920s but is now largely fallow.

The solar plant will use significantly less water per acre than was used for agricultural purposes.

“The location has been carefully chosen and the plant has been specifically configured to minimize environmental impacts on the desert,” said Scott Frier, COO of Abengoa Solar, Inc.

The spinoff economic benefits, including jobs created, are expected to be significant near an area that was farmed for alfalfa from the 1920s but was later largely abandoned.

Mojave Solar Project will contribute to meeting California’s aggressive Renewable Portfolio Standard, which calls for moving away from fossil fuels to solar energy and other renewable energy sources that avoid pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

We expect to start construction by the end of 2010, subject to financing under the U.S. economic stimulus legislation.

The Mojave Solar Project will use a similar size and type of Abengoa Solar parabolic trough technology as the system that will be installed at the Solana Electrical Generating Station announced in 2008 near Phoenix, Arizona. This is a highly innovative system that maximizes power production in trough plants.

The plant uses parabolic mirrors that are arranged in long troughs and track the sun’s movement continually during the day, concentrating the solar radiation onto a heat-absorbing pipe at the focal point of the mirrors. A heat transfer fluid circulating inside the pipe reaches temperatures of more than 700 degrees Fahrenheit. This heat is then used to generate steam that drives a conventional steam turbine.

In addition to the Mojave Solar Project in California and the Solana Project in Arizona, Abengoa Solar has seven CSP plants under construction or operation and others under development.

In August 2009, Abengoa Solar announced that it was selected by Xcel Energy, Colorado’s largest electric utility company, to build a demonstration parabolic trough concentrating solar power plant at Xcel Energy’s Cameo coal plant near Grand Junction, Colorado. Abengoa Solar has also used recently parabolic trough technology to make industrial process heat for a major food processor to cook snacks in Modesto, CA and for the U.S. Department of Energy to treat contaminated groundwater in Tuba City, AZ.

Renovalia and Infinia partner to build solar dish-stirling power plants

August 8, 2009

The Spanish renewable energy company Renovalia has signed an exclusive frameworks agreement for a  joint venture with the American firm Infinia to build thermosolar plants for third parties in Spain and Italy, and to develop projects in the rest of southern Europe, North Africa and other countries.

In addition, Renovalia will provide some components for the solar system to be manufactured in Spain by subsidiaries of the Group and external suppliers.

According to Renovalia, this is the first time that NASA technology will be used in Spain to produce electricity. To accomplish this, the Spanish-American partnership is setting up a €400 million ($567 million), 71 MW power plant in Villarobledo, Castile-La Mancha.

In addition to the Villarobledo plant, Renovalia is planning to install 150 MW a year in the future, using this technology which, in the area of renewable energy, is the least developed.

Infinia’s Solar System relies on a Free-Piston Stirling Engine (FPSE) to convert concentrated solar heat to electricity. Infinia FPSEs convert thermal energy from external energy sources to linear motion which drives an integral linear alternator, thus generating clean, reliable electricity. 

This system is characterized by nearly 24% efficiency, low maintenance and operating autonomy. The main difference compared to other thermal technologies is that it does not need water or gas to produce electricity. Moreover, the engines are quiet, do not require lubrication and can be connected to the network in modular phases. A 50 MW plant using this technology can be built in less than a year.

The facility operates during sunlight hours and remains out of service during night hours. That is why the department of R+D of  Renovalia together with a team of international consultants and Infinia are working to develop a energy storage system to complement this technology. This video shows the actual systems:

Parsons and TSK establish and alliance to develop CSP projects

July 28, 2009

Parsons has signed a strategic alliance agreement with TSK, a Spanish energy and industrial engineering firm.  This strategic partnership  by Parsons and TSK will provide Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) technology applications in North America and the Middle East. CSP has proven an effective and efficient technology for generating merchant class solar power at levels from 20 to 500 megawatts.

Parsons, an engineering, construction, and technical and management services firm headquartered in Pasadena, California, brings to the partnership the ability to deliver large solar projects from planning and environmental permitting through startup.

TSK is completing two CSP projects in Spain that incorporate thermal storage—storing heat in molten salts, providing for generation of solar-powered energy 24/7. It also has experience in developing photovoltaic plants. Spain has long been a leader in solar power, driven by long-term support from the Spanish government.

“CSP with thermal storage should find a very large market in the Sunbelt of North America and throughout the Middle East,” said Mike Walsh, president of Parsons Commercial Technology Group. “The combination of Parsons’ resources and reputation in the market and TSK’s experience and expertise with CSP with thermal storage will provide utilities, power districts, and independent power producers with an elegant option for base load renewable power to meet large-scale renewable power requirements.”

Until recently, the plants have been limited to “peaker” service, since solar could only produce power when the sun is shining. That has now changed; CSP can produce power around the clock and be a base load generator. Having the ability to produce solar power around the clock is a “game changer” in the rapidly moving solar and renewable power field. Thus, Parsons and TSK look forward to working together on this important undertaking.

FCC to invest in two thermo-solar plants in Spain

June 10, 2009

The Spanish Group FCC is planning to invest between  500 and 600 million euros in two thermosolar or CSP plants in Córdoba and Alicante (Spain) with a capacity of 50 MW each, said Baldomero Falcones, CEO of the Group, at a Shareholders’  meeting yesterday in Barcelona.

FCC will hold a 67%  interest in the project in Cordoba, where it will partner with the EPC firm Abantia. The second plant, in Alicante, will be 70 % owned by FCC with  Enerstar as a partner.  The engineering group Técnicas Reunidas will complete the project.

FCC is also stepping up its activities in energy efficiency, through its subsidiary Portland Valderribas and a possible acquisition of a company specialised in this field.

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.

Update on CSP solar projects in Spain

March 16, 2009

– Madrid-based renewable outfit Grupo Ibereolica has signed an agreement with La Coruna, Spain-based energy conglomerate Inveravante to jointly start construction of two 50 MW concentrating solar power (CSP) solar thermal power plants in Andalucia and Extremadura, Spain. The two companies plan to build and operate eight solar projects in Spain. The first two plants will use parabolic through technology and will produce 50MW each. They The 50 MW solar plants will use parabolic technology and be prepared for future upgrading to salt storage and biomass hybridization to increase night production. The agreement calls for Inveravante to replicate the same mechanisms at two additional plants.

– Acciona Energy has started construction on a 50 MW concentrated solar power (CSP) plant at Majadas de Tiétar in Cáceres, Spain, representing an investment of 237 million euros (US$303.7 million). The facility, planned to enter service in summer 2010, will use solar trough technology to produce electricity equivalent to the power consumption of 30,000 homes. In June 2009, Acciona expects to start construction work on its fourth CSP plant, Palma del Río I. Finally, Acciona is also going through administrative procedures for a fifth CSP plant, Alvarado II.

– Abantia will invest 128 million euros in the first CSP plant in Catalonia (in the province of Lleida). With a capacity of 25 MW, it will also be based in parabolic trough technology.

– Aries Ingenieria is building the  largest comprehensive solar power project in Europe, uniting thermoelectric and photovoltaic technology facilities with a combined power of 230 MW in Ciudad Real (Castile-La Mancha). The project, by the name of ASTE, comprises four thermoelectric solar facilities of 50 MW each, with parabolic cylinder and 8-hour thermal storage technology. A state-of-the-art 30 MW photovoltaic solar facility will complete the project.

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.

Gas Natural opens one of the first European solar cooling plants

July 16, 2008
Courtesy of hungryghost

Gas Natural HQ in Barcelona

The Spanish energy company Gas Natural inaugurated yesterday in Seville one of the first European solar cooling experimental plants. The technology behind it is double-effect solar absorption cooling backed up by natural gas. That allows for more efficiency and consistency in obtaining cold levels apt to be used in heating and refrigeration.

The project’s main objective is to allow the company acquire enough experience to be able to deploy these solar thermal cooling units in buildings starting next year. This drive has been fueled by the Spanish new Technical Building Code (TBC) which, since September 2006, has made the installation of solar collectors compulsory to contribute to the household hot water requirements of both new and rehabilitated buildings.

This 3,767 square foot installation is located on the roof of the College of Engineering, at the University of Seville, that is a partner in the project along with the Andalusia Technology Corporation, a public agency that fosters Research and Development in this Spanish region.

The investment in the installation amounts to 1,3 million euros ($2 million). It provides a third of the cooling needs of the building in summer (around 500 kW), and from half to all of its energy needs in winter, depending on the month.

Solel wins large order for solar receivers in Spain

May 8, 2008

Solar energy technology company Solel Solar Systems Ltd. has won a contract to supply 70,000 thermosolar receivers for three new solar power plants in Spain. The company will supply its UVAC 2008 receivers to two unnamed Spanish infrastructure companies, which are jointly building the power plants. The plants will have a production capacity of 50 megawatts each. The current order will be filled over the course of 2009. This is the largest order for the company’s systems to date. It follows an earlier order for 46,000 units for two 50 MW solar power plants in Spain (built by Aries Solar) which Solel announced in January.

The company is expanding in the two major markets for CSP (Concentrating Solar Power), the USA and Spain. In the latter country It is building an integrated manufacturing facility in the region of Andalusia for all solar field components at an investment of $140M (€90 million). It was a natural step for Solel, that has won a steady stream of contracts with Spanish developers lately.


In the USA,  Solel is developing a huge solar project in California to supply 553 MW to Pacific Gas and Electric Company. According to the OC Business Journal, Solel plans to open its U.S. headquarters in Newport Beach (California) this year.

Solar collectors that capture heat even in the shade

March 27, 2008

During the last edition of the Energy Trade show GENERA in Madrid, visitors wondered how the solar panels from the company Solar PST, from Galicia, managed to heat water to up to 122 °F degrees, considering they were located in an indoor facility.

“These thermodynamic panels absorb heat not only from solar radiation but from the surrounding air temperature as well” explained Pablo Fernández, the company CEO.

solar-pst.jpgSolar PST and its Portuguese partner Energie recently inaugurated Europe’s largest thermodynamic solar thermal collector manufacturing plant in the Portuguese village of Povoa de Varzím. Solar PST owns 35% of Energie, though the companies operate independently to some extent.

The factory sits on an area of almost 32,300 square feet, and provides equipment to Europe and America. The company is already planning to double its output in a matter of two years.

Based in the thermodynamic principles laid down by the XIXth century French physicist Nicolas Carnot, the technology behind these solar collectors is used for heating water for sanitary use, pools and central heating. It consists of a cooling fluid that gasifies when circulating in the solar panel, capturing heat from sunlight and the surrounding environment. The gas is then compressed and used to heat water by means of a heat exchanger.

The system offers many advantages: the panels may overlap in cases where space is limited and are not restricted to roofs, as they may also be attached to walls.  They do not need to be protected from wind, as they may also benefit energetically from it.  In areas with a rainy climate like Galicia (or most of Northern Europe, for that matter), their main advantage, though, is that they keep on working even on cloudy and cool days.

0731.jpgThe company sells in Italy, France, Belgium, Chile and the US (Miami). This year, it plans to expand to Greece and the UK. Typical clients for these solar collectors are swimming pools, hospitals, residential areas and hotels.

(Photo: Courtesy of Solar PST)

Solar PST is looking for new outlets for its technologies. Along with its partner Telemo Communications, it has deployed a first batch of a hundred solar phone booths around Spain. These are off-grid, standalone systems that not only get energy from the sun during the day: they also recharge at night.