Erlangen, 15.10.2008 The first parabolic trough power plant in Europe, Andasol 1, has started its test run and will be connected to the Spanish grid after the successful completion of this trial period. The solar field is already generating thermal energy which will be used in a steam turbine to produce electricity after the commissioning of the power plant. Overall, the power plant will generate environment-friendly current for up to 200,000 people and, at the same time, save carbon dioxide emissions of around 150,000 tons compared to a modern coal power plant.
With a collector area of over 510,000 square meters - equivalent to about 70 football fields - Andasol 1 is the largest solar power plant worldwide. It consists of 312 rows of collectors with a total length of around 90 kilometers and roughly 210,000 parabolic mirrors. In each row of collectors the solar radiation is concentrated on a focal line by parabolic mirrors and converted into thermal energy. The thermal energy can be stored intermittently and therefore be released in a planned manner to a steam engine cycle in order to produce electricity via a turbine.
"We are about to carry out the final tests. In the course of these tests, parts of the solar field generate thermal energy and thus hot steam", explains Oliver Vorbrugg, the site manager of Flagsol GmbH, the globally leading company in this solar technology and a subsidiary of Solar Millennium. "Also the salt for the thermal storage is molten up and filled into the storage by now. I am proud to be able to take a responsible part in this important project."
During a common site visit of the management boards of both, Solar Millennium AG and the Spanish construction company Cobra S.A., Christian Beltle, CEO of Solar Millennium, is delighted about the soon start of operations: "Andasol 1 is an important reference project. Today, we have been very satisfied to see the capability of the power plant. Andasol 1 is a major step for Europe to sustainable energy production."
Dr. Henner Gladen, CTO of Solar Millennium, adds: "When we founded Solar Millennium ten years ago, solar-thermal power plants were only a vision in Europe. Today, Andasol 1 sets a new benchmark for solar electricity production and, therefore, our vision has become reality. By setting-up this solar-thermal power plant we have proven our expert know-how and competence as project developer and technology provider. As a result, we expect an accelerated progress of our numerous projects worldwide."
In direct neighbourhood to Andasol 1, the two sister projects Andasol 2 and 3 are being set-up. While the so-called early works have begun at Andasol 3, 75% of Andasol 2's solar field and storage tanks are already completed. Andasol 2 should start to produce electricity in spring 2009.
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 1,000 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 trough-shaped 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.
You can download the press release here.