Erlangen (Germany)/Cairo, 02.12.2008 The construction of the first parabolic trough solar field in Egypt has begun in the last days. Thus the hybrid power plant, which is located in Kuraymat south of Cairo and uses both natural gas and solar-thermal energy, is now taking shape. After its completion in summer 2010, the power plant will contribute to securing the electricity supply in the Cairo region. Design and construction of the solar field are carried out by the Egyptian general contractor, Orascom Construction Industries, together with the German technology company, Flagsol GmbH (Cologne), a subsidiary of Solar Millennium AG (Erlangen, Germany).
This plant - the first of its kind in Egypt - shows that more and more countries outside of Europe are making the move towards sustainable energy supplies. As Europe's first parabolic trough power plant, Andasol 1, prepares to be connected to the grid within the coming days, the significance of solar-thermal power generation in the Middle East and North Africa is also growing. Besides Egypt power plant projects or public tenders have also been undertaken by the authorities in Algeria, Morocco, Israel and the United Arab Emirates. With this, the first OPEC countries are placing their stake in this technology, which allows to supply solar power in large quantities, in an economical and a plannable way. The motivation for the worldwide change in energy policy is the increasing awareness of how limited oil and gas resources are.
The hybrid power plant with an output of 150 MW currently being constructed in Egypt is a role model project for the region. Egypt plans to build further plants of this kind, thereby significantly increasing its share of renewable energy. Klaas Rühmann, senior project manager at Flagsol, makes clear the advantages of solar-thermal technology for a sustainable energy concept: "The location of the hybrid power plant, on the banks of the Nile, 95 Kilometers south of Cairo, with an annual direct-normal irradiation of over 2,400 Kilowatt hours per square meter, is ideal for using solar-thermal power plants. In hybrid operation, both fossil fuels are reduced and electricity supplies are secured to the highest possible degree."
The solar field consists of parabolic troughs with a total mirror surface area of 130,000 square meters. The collector rows, 6 meters wide and 150 meters long, are assembled on-site, segment by segment, in a purpose-built assembly facility. The same technology is being used in the Andasol power plants by Flagsol, the world leader in the field. The high-precision optical collectors consist of a steel frame, onto which the parabolic mirrors and absorber pipes are mounted. The key components are produced in Germany by Schott Solar and Flabeg. During the 10-month solar field mounting period, a total of 53,000 mirrors will be required.
Christian Beltle, Chairman of the Board of Solar Millennium, indicates the strategic prospects of solar power plants in North Africa and the Middle East: "The potential is enormous. Using a very small part of the North African desert, solar-thermal power plants will not only be able to meet the rapidly increasing power demands of North Africa, but also to export clean and economical solar power to Europe. Additionally, the plants can be used to convert sea water to drinking water through desalination."
About Solar Millennium AG:
Solar Millennium AG, Erlangen, is a globally active company in the renewable energy sector, with a main focus on solar thermal power plants. Together with its subsidiaries, Solar Millennium specialises in parabolic trough power plants - a reliable, proven technology in which the company has a worldwide leading position covering all major business sectors along the value chain for solar thermal power plants from project development over technology and turn-key construction to the operation and ownership of power plants. In Spain, Solar Millennium developed Europe's first ever parabolic trough power plants, which are already under construction. Further projects are planned worldwide with an overall capacity of over 2,000 Megawatts. The current regional focus is on Spain, the USA, China and North Africa. In addition, the company develops solar chimney power plants aiming to make this technology ready for the market.
About solar thermal power plant technology:
Solar thermal power plants generate electricity using thermal energy converted from solar radiation. In a parabolic trough power plant, the solar radiation is concentrated by troughshaped mirrors onto a pipe in the focal line of the collector and absorbed by a heat transfer fluid which, thus, heats up to about 400°C. The heat is transported by the fluid to the power block where it generates steam by means of a heat exchanger. As with conventional power plants, the steam powers a turbine to generate electricity. And by integrating a thermal storage, electricity can be supplied on demand, even after sunset.
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