This week King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofía presided over the inauguration of Abengoa's PS20 solar plant, the largest commercial solar tower plant in the world, located at the Solúcar Platform in Sanlúcar la Mayor, Seville (Spain).
The Chairman of Abengoa, Felipe Benjumea, explained the functioning and the advantages of tower technology, a mature solution that offers the most efficient performance compared to other similar technologies, by concentrating solar radiation onto a single spot. During his speech, Benjumea pointed out that the plant's operations "are based on generating electricity by obtaining heat from solar radiation. More than 1,000 mirrors, each one 120 square metres in size, placed at the base of the tower, track the sun just like sunflowers".
The 20 megawatts of power produces enough clean energy to supply 10,000 homes, preventing the emission of approximately 12,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere per annum. Abengoa’s Chairman added that "energy in the 21st century has to be clean with no greenhouse gas emissions; competitive, internalising all costs, including from the carbon dioxide, and storable. These three conditions have all been fulfilled here and we believe that this is the real future for today, a possible future".
The Solúcar Platform also houses a research centre that develops new photovoltaic and thermal technologies, employing more than 70 scientists and engineers. Thanks to this centre, Spain and Europe are at the forefront of new technologies, which are revolutionising the possibilities for generating electricity from the sun.
Concentrating solar power will contribute to security of EU energy supply
Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs also attended the opening in Seville, describing the PS20 concentrating solar power plant as "a sound response to our climate and energy challenges”. In his opening speech, Piebalgs explained that the plant will lead to huge carbon dioxide emission reductions and contribute to the security of supply by using locally available energy sources. “PS20 is a clear example that EU research efforts have a multiplying effect, as it is largely building on the success of the neighbouring PS10 plant which was the first Concentrating Solar Power demonstration plant co-financed by the European Research programme," he said.
The EU has been giving support to concentrating solar power technology for more than ten years and has enabled research activities, to develop, to validate, to demonstrate and to disseminate various CSP technologies. Under the 5th and 6th Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development, the EU contributed about €25 million to research projects in CSP technologies. This contribution has had a leveraging effect leading to a significant additional private investment that all in all amounts to about ten times the investments from the European Research Programme.
The PS20 plant built and operated by Abengoa Solar has an installed capacity of 20 MW. It is the second commercial plant of its kind, completed after the PS10 experience, and features a number of technological improvements compared to PS10. According to an Energy Commission press release, the contribution of a wide range of technologies, including concentrating solar power such as that used in the PS20 plant, will be needed to achieve the EU’s 20% by 2020 target.
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