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Harvesting Solar Power in Spain With Very Efficient 30 Year Old Technologies

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Abengoa Solar and E.ON Climate & Renewables have teamed up to build two 50MW concentrating solar power plants in Spain. With a total investment of around 550 million Euro, Helioenergy 1 & 2 will harvest solar power in the best area in Europe in terms of solar radiation: Ecija Seville in Southern Spain.

Helioenergy 1 & 2 will start energy production in 2011 and 2012 respectively and the aim is to produce enough power to supply 52,000 homes and avoid the CO2 emission of about 63,000 tonnes. The E.ON participation in the projects is still under EU-Commission approval but as Santiago Seage, CEO of Abengoa Solar mentioned, E.ON will help the company growing fast and improve the capabilities and knowledge in the field.

“Solar Power will be the next strong pillar in E.ON’s renewable portfolio. Our entry into CSP complements our recent moves into the photovoltaic business and we will now stand on two feet in solar in the future. I am also delighted to be working with Abengoa. We have found an experienced partner with whom we want to drive CSP to new levels of performance” said Frank Mastiaux, CEO of E.ON Climate & Renewables.

A CSP (concentrated solar power plant) has the same working principle as any thermal power plant. The difference is that it uses solar energy to produce steam to drive a turbine and a generator. A CSP needs to have a lot of open space for mirror and lots of sun (the perfect areas would be the Southern Europe and the arid regions of Northern Africa and North America). CSP plant need also a source of water for the steam turbine.

Miguel Antoi±anzas, The President of E.ON Spain is very thrilled on this new partnership as from the actual 3.700MW energy generation capacity in the Iberian Peninsula, E.ON will have more than 1.100 MW only from renewable sources. E.ON is playing an important role in the development of renewable sources as they have a 8 billion Euro plan of investment in wind and solar energy.

Ecija Plant will use Parabolic Trough technology which was developed in the early 1980s. Abengoa Solar has tested and enhanced the technology at the Soliºcar Platform plants in Sanliºcar la Mayor, Seville.

Parabolic troughs reflect sunlight onto a tube which is filled with a liquid. The tube is called absorber as it absorbs the heat in order to get the liquid to its boiling point. The boiling liquid creates steam which drives a turbine. Parabolic troughs can be mounted in rows several hundred meters long. In order to run at least 6 more hours after the sun has set, some of the produced heat is stored.

What is very interesting is the fact that we have this technologies for few decades now but we did not used them at a larger scale up to know. I doubt that burning gas and coal was much on hand than using renewable energy. But let’s support the green movement even in this point. It’s never too late!

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