The new Stirling dish unit developed by Vinci Energía is the result of a six year long R&D project, and comprises a Vinci 125-157 Luter concentrator and a Stirling engine mounted on a Titan Tracker solar tracker, creating a 10 KWe generation unit. The system was developed in conjunction with several public and private research institutes and universities around Spain and Europe.
"We realised that this technology had been investigated the least of all renewable energies, and therefore we could find a greater niche in the market," said Jose Vicente Garcia, one of the founding partners of Vinci, in an interview on the website of the Alumni Association of the Valencia Polytechnic University. "In Spain, developments in this field have focused on high output. The chosen technologies have been large central towers with heliostats or parabolic trough plants, which are only profitable from 40-50 MW upwards. We therefore decided to focus our efforts on solar thermal electric plants with low to medium output." This is how the Luter 10 patent came about.
25% conversion rate
The electricity generated by this system is alternate current, which can be sent directly to any supply grid, including low voltage networks. The company reports that this increases the number of available grid access points and reduces the infrastructure required to connect arrays employing this technology to the electricity grid. According to the company, this system requires 50% less land than a PV array and has a solar-to-electricity conversion rate of 25% (approximately double that of PV). Vinci Energía has calculated that its first pre-commercial plant will have a TIR of 9%, will cost approximately 5.5 €/MW to install (using dual-axis trackers), and will generate electricity at a cost of 3.5 c€/kWh. “One of the key problems of renewable energies is that they are not economically competitive. We have achieved a profitable product,” says Antonio González, director of Vinci.
“The Luter Project represents one of the clearest advances in R&D in Spain,” declares the company on its website. “As well as offering economic and environmental benefits, this project generates jobs, which is very interesting in light of the current scenario resulting from the government’s proposed changes to feed-in tariffs.”
Vinci Energía explains that it can install plants for small investors or for own use ranging from 10 kW, or larger arrays for corporate investors amounting to as many megawatts as required. Luter can also be integrated into hybrid systems, opening up the possibility of plants operating 24 hours a day in combination with biogas or other renewable energy sources.
Vinci Energía is an engineering firm specialised in renewable energies: photovoltaics, solar thermal electric and biomass. It has taken part in more than 75 MW of photovoltaic solar projects in Spain and has been granted a technology research project by Spain0s Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI) as a result of the extraordinary outcome of the CSP-Luter Project. In 2009, it was nominated as a finalist for the CSP Innovation Award during CSP Today’s Third Concentrated Solar Thermal Power Summit in Seville, and has received several awards including those given by the savings bank, Bancaja, and the Valencian Institute for Small and Medium Industry (IMPIVA).
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