World’s First Solar Power Plant that Run 24 Hours Uninterrupted

Concentrated solar power plant is one of the solar technologies that being research lately because of its potential to generate energy with better efficiency. In concentrated solar power technology or csp, solar heat energy is used as the potential energy for generating electricity and not solar light as in photovoltaic or solar cell.

Gemasolar which is built by Torresol Energy is the world’s first solar power plant that runs 24 hours uninterrupted. Gemasolar which is located in Fuentes de Andalucia, Seville, Spain just connected to grid on January 2012. Torresol Energy is a joint venture between two companies, SENER Ingenería y Sistemas S.A. a Spanish multinational company and MASDAR of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Gemasolar Concentrated Solar Power Plant Facts & Figures

  • Thermal solar power plant, central power tower type Location: Fuentes de Andalucia a town in Seville East Province, Spain.
  • There are 2,650 heliostats installed on 457 acres land.
  • The plant can reach operating temperatures of over 932° Fahrenheit or 500° Celsius.19.9 MW capacity can supply enough electricity to 27,500 households in southern Spain.
  • The annual production of Gemasolar is equivalent to the energy generated in a conventional thermal plant burning 89,000 tons of lignite or the energy of 217,000 oil barrels.
  • Gemasolar is expected to save more than 30,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year.Gemasolar solar power plant from top

Heliostat of Gemasolar

How Concentrated Solar Power Plant Works?

There are few types or technologies for concentrated solar power plant or csp such as parabolic trough, fresnel reflectors, dish stirling and solar power tower. The technology which is being used in construction of Gemasolar is called solar power tower or central power tower.

Heliostats which are located surround the central power tower use as sunlight collectors for the system.  Each heliostat reflects received sun’s energy to the power tower and heat up the main receiver. The collected heat energy then is used to rotate the turbines that generate electricity. Unused heat energy is kept in thermal storage to generate electricity at night.

Torresol concentrated solar power plant is the world’s first concentrated solar power plant that could run 24 hours generating electricity. The power plant could run 15 hours without sunlight and it generates electricity at night. Torresol’s molten salt storage technology made this possible.

Molten salt is liquid at atmosphere pressure and it provides an efficient, low-cost medium to store thermal energy. Molten salt’s operating temperatures is compatible with today’s high-pressure and high-temperature steam turbines. It is non-flammable and nontoxic. Besides, molten salt also is used in the chemical and metals industries as a heat-transport fluid. Thus experience with molten-salt systems exists in non-solar settings.

Molten salt storage tank of Gemasolar

Solar Power Plant Investment

Although some people thought that today’s cost of photovoltaic is slightly cheaper than concentrated solar power plant. However concentrated solar power plant is more preferable and more viable for large project.

The price of photovoltaic panels is lately reduce because of mass production and economic of scale. That is why the cost for home photovoltaic system per kWh is cheaper than the concentrated solar power plant. Secondly home PV system or photovoltaic system doesn’t need extra infrastructure as the power plant need.

In my opinion photovoltaic is more viable for small to middle scale projects while concentrated solar power plant is more viable for large to mega projects. Thanks for reading.

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