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Important progress in construction of Andasol 3 solar power plant: Turbine and generator installed

  • Turbine was produced in Oberhausen, generator imported from England
  • Launch planned for mid-2011
  • Andasol 3 will provide electricity for half a million people together with its sister projects Andasol 1 and 2

Munich, Cologne, Essen, Erlangen 20 September 2010

With the installation of the power generator another important construction phase of the Andasol 3 solar-thermal power plant has been completed. Together with the 50-megawatt (MW) steam turbine that weighs 160 tons, the some 85-ton generator is the heart of the power plant. Once it starts operation in mid-2011, Andasol 3 is expected to produce roughly 165 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year. As such, the parabolic trough power plant will produce more electricity than the entire German island of Sylt consumes in a year. Andasol 3 is being realized jointly by Stadtwerke München (Munich City Utility), RWE Innogy, RheinEnergie, Ferrostaal and Solar Millennium and is expected to cut back on approximately 150,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year compared to a modern coal-fired power plant after it starts operation.

What happened prior to the installation work on the turbine platform was a logistical challenge. Several hundred tons of material had to be transported to Spain from Denmark, England, Italy and Germany by ship and heavy-goods vehicles. The previous highlight was the arrival and pre-installation of the turbine consisting of a high-pressure and a low-pressure module with two heavy-duty cranes in the power plant block. The turbine was manufactured at MAN Diesel & Turbo in Oberhausen. The last part to arrive in southern Spain was the generator, which was produced in England. It is now being installed between the two turbine elements. "In principle, the two turbine parts always have to be angled to the shaft of the generator and not the other way around, whereby the maximum tolerance is two tenths of a millimeter," Thomas Speth, Project Manager of the general contractor of Andasol 3 explains the challenge associated with the assembly. For this reason, the measuring work is performed by specialists with the help of high-precision instruments. At the moment, a total of more than 300 people are working at the building site.

"We will increase this number in the next few weeks and months to around 500 once we step up the work at other construction stages as well," continued Speth. This includes the pipe installation work between the heat exchangers, pumps and the power plant block. Solar Millennium, Ferrostaal and their joint venture Flagsol as well as the Spanish Duro Felguera formed a consortium that acts as general contractor for Andasol 3. The installation of all the parabolic trough collectors with a total length of some 90 kilometers was already concluded in mid-June. At the moment, pipe installation and cabling work is also being carried out in the solar field.

The construction of the thermal storage units is also on schedule. 3,000 tons of the special salt mixture from calcium nitrate and sodium nitrate were delivered last week alone. The salt is stored in the port of Almeria in its crystalline state and will first be liquefied during the filling of the salt tanks at site through a special heating device. Each salt tank holds around 30,000 tons of liquid salt. During the day, the salt is heated to 390°C by the solar field and is pumped from one tank into the other. At night or in cloudy weather, this thermal energy is released and converted into electricity. This allows the solar power plant to generate environmentally friendly solar power even after sundown. A full storage unit supplies enough energy to operate the turbine for approximately eight hours at full capacity.

After completion of the Andasol 3 power plant, some 210,000 parabolic mirrors will absorb the sunlight. The curved mirrors collect the solar radiation and concentrate it in an absorber pipe that is filled with a heat transfer medium. The absorption of the solar radiation heats heat transfer fluid. With the help of heat exchangers, the thermal energy is finally transferred to a water/steam cycle. As with a conventional power plant, this steam powers the turbine. The generator connected to the turbine generates electricity. The use of the thermal storage unit allows for power supply on a predictable basis. Andasol 3 is the third power plant that Solar Millennium has developed at this location on a plateau between Granada and Almeria.

You can download the press release here