As from 1 September, Helioenergy 1, the first of two identical solar thermal electric plants being developed in Écija (Spain) by Abengoa and E.ON, was officially brought into commercial operation. It is planned that Helioenergy 2 will join its twin later in the year.
Boasting 121,000 installed mirrors or heliostats, Helioenergy 1 and 2 will spread over 220 hectares, an area the size of more than 300 soccer fields. Each facility will generate enough electricity for over 26,000 households thanks to over 300 days of sun in this part of southern Spain per year.
This solar energy will now be used by a large solar power station near Seville, built and operated jointly by E.ON, one of the world’s leading power and gas companies, and Abengoa, a Spanish company who is a world leader in concentrating solar power plants.
According to a recent press release, Helioenergy 1 boasts 52,000 heliostats which concentrate the sun's rays to generate steam at a temperature of 400 degrees centrigrade. The steam then drives two 50-MW turbines which generate electricity in a clean and efficient manner, preventing 63,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from being emitted into the atmosphere each year.
Abengoa has contributed expertise in solar technology and solar plant operations, while E.ON has brought conventional power station construction and operation experience to the project.
Solar power made in the USA
In June, Abengoa Solar was granted a conditional commitment for a $1.2 billion loan guarantee by the US Department of Energy Secretary. The guarantee will support the construction and start-up of the Mojave Solar Project (MSP), a 280 gross megawatt MW soar thermal electric plant in California, about 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles.
The building of MSP will create new construction jobs peaking at about 1,200, while averaging around 830, and another 70 permanent operation positions. Many indirect jobs will also be generated, including the numerous manufacturing jobs in the supply chain.
Abengoa has made it a priority to utilise US-made components wherever possible for the Mojave Solar Project. More than 80% of the equipment and supplies required to build MSP will be manufactured in the US. These include power equipment, high precision mirrors and other construction materials. The manufacturing of these key components in many states across the country will provide economic benefits and will help to secure and create jobs.
Abengoa started construction of MSP in August and expects that the plant will start producing power in the summer of 2014, when it will sell enough energy to serve 53,000 households through a power purchase agreement with PG&E, one of the country’s largest electric utilities. This will avoid 350,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from being released into the atmosphere annually.