17 October, 2011

Chile’s Minister of Energy Visits 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 Chilean Embassy in Spain and CORFO’s InvestChile.

The delegation from Chile visited 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, especially in the implementation of solar energy and wind power projects.

As part of that trip, the delegation made a stop at Gemasolar on Sunday, October 16, to learn about its innovative technology, which has become internationally famous. In the plant, the delegation members were received by the Torresol Energy’s CEO, Alvaro Lorente, and the Director of SENER’s Solar Area, Miguel Domingo, who accompanied the delegation through their installations and also discussed other solar energy projects that Torresol Energy and SENER are working on. SENER, a multidisciplinary engineering and technology group, is already present in Chile through its civil engineering projects, such as the extension of Line 5 of the Santiago de Chile Metro and its energy projects, such as the Caracol Quintero residual oil conversion plant.

Owned by Torresol Energy, a joint venture between SENER, the leading engineering and technology group in Spain, and Masdar, the advanced, global future energy company, Gemasolar is the first commercial plant in the world to use the thermal salt storage with central tower receiver and heliostat field configuration.

The capacity of molten salts to store heat allows Gemasolar to supply energy to the grid depending on demand, independent of solar radiation. Gemasolar is also a high-temperature solar plant, which can achieve operating temperatures of more than 500 °C, much higher than those reached with cylindrical-parabolic technology, since oil is unnecessary. Instead, the plant uses molten salts as the transfer fluid. These high temperatures generate overheated pressurized steam for the turbine, thereby increasing the efficiency of the plant.

In this way Gemasolar, with its nominal power of 19.9 MW, can supply electricity to a population of 27,500 homes in southern Spain. It is expected that the plant will produce some 100 GWhe annually when operating at full capacity for a total of 6,450 hours per year.

Gemasolar’s annual production (110 GWhe) is equivalent to the power generated in a conventional thermal plant that burns 89,000 metric tons of lignite, or equivalent to the converted energy of 217,000 barrels of oil. In short, it is expected that the plant avoids the emission of 30,000 tons of CO2 each year.

The importance of this solar plant, the first of its technology in the world, has aroused the interest of numerous governments and institutions around the world, among them the EU nations, the US, and members of the Arab League. Recently, Gemasolar was officially inaugurated by His Majesty the King of Spain, Don Juan Carlos I, and His Royal Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.


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