17 January, 2012

Chile’s Minister of Energy visits again the Gemasolar plant

The Gemasolar thermoelectric solar energy plant, located in Fuentes de Andalucia, received a visit from a delegation from the government of Chile. The head of the delegation was Rodrigo Alvarez Zenteno, the Minister of Energy, who was accompanied by representatives from the main mining companies of Chile. This is the second time the Minister comes to the innovative plant Gemasolar, owned by Torresol Energy, after his first visit in October 2011.

Gemasolar is the first commercial plant in the world to use the thermal salt storage with central tower receiver and heliostat field configuration, an efficient system that allows increasing significantly the number of hours of operation. Its innovative technology has awakened a great interest among political authorities from all over the world, including representatives from the governments of the European Union, United States, Australia, and the Arab League. In fact, the plant was officially launched by two royal families: by His Majesty the King of Spain and His Highness General Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.

The delegation from Chile visited again the plant within the framework of a trip around Spain to get better acquainted with the commissioning of renewable energy projects in the country, a sector in which Spain is a world leader. As part of that trip, the delegation made a stop at Gemasolar on Sunday, January 15.

At the plant, the delegation members were received by Torresol Energy’s General Manager, Alvaro Lorente, who accompanied the delegation through the plant’s installations and also discussed other solar energy projects owned by Torresol Energy, such as the parabolic trough plants Valle 1 and Valle 2, located in Cadiz.

Gemasolar has a high temperature heat storage system (>550ºC) which allows it to continue producing electricity up to 15 hours without sunlight, meaning it can continue to operate during the night or during cloudy weather. Gemasolar is nowadays the only solar thermal plant that can deliver power in 24 hours of uninterrupted operation. What is more, the high temperature at which solar energy is captured in the salts receiver provides steam at a higher pressure and temperature which considerably increases the turbine’s performance. Thanks to this storage capacity, a clean source of energy such as solar energy can become manageable, and capable of responding to the grid’s demand.

Gemasolar, a plant with 19.9 MW power, is capable of supplying 110 GWh of clean, safe energy annually, for 27,500 households. Furthermore, the plant is capable of reducing annual CO2 emissions by more than 30,000 tons, thereby avoiding the need to burn 89,000 tons of lignite or to import 28,600 tons (217,000 barrels) of oil each year, thereby reducing the deficit in the balance of payments by $25 million at today’s crude oil prices.

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