Friday, April 06, 2007

Good News, Bad News

On this Good Friday, it seems like some good news would be appropriate. Even though I must admit, I never thought that JC would have thought this day to be so dang good. I guess maybe he was being good.

So, thanks to the Energy Blog, here is an encouraging announcement from Spain of a new solar power plant along with the country's other ambitious renewable energy plans and accomplishments.

"An Abengoa press release reveals the dedication of an 11 MW Solar Tower, the PS10, the world's first commercial solar tower power plant. Solucar, an Abengoa company, constructed the plant in the municipality of Sanlucar la Mayor (Seville),which will be operated by Abengoa.

The 11 megawatt PS10 solar power plant will generate 24.3 GW/hr per year of clean energy and comprises 624 movable heliostats (mirrors). Each of the mirrors has a surface area of 120 square meters (1292 square feet) which concentrates the Sun's rays to the top of a 115-meter (377 foot) high tower where the solar receiver and a steam turbine are located. The turbine drives a generator, producing electricity. The two axis heliostats move automatically as a function of the solar calendar. This power plant alone will prevent the emission of 18,000 tons of CO2 per year.

The investment required to build the concentrating solar power plant amounted to €35 million (US$47 million), with a contribution of €5 million (US$6.7 million) from the EU's Fifth Framework Program for research, awarded for the project's innovative approach.

The 300 MW Sanlucar la Mayor Solar Platform will be completed by the year 2013 and, utilizing a wide range of solar technologies will produce sufficient energy to cover the consumption of some 180,000 homes, equivalent to the needs of the city of Seville. The project requires a 1.2 billion euro (US$1.6 billion) investment.

The remaining Sanlucar la Mayor Solar Platform power plants will be stagger-constructed over the next six years to convert the Platform into a diverse technology macro-project that will include solar tower, parabolic-trough collector, Stirling dish, and low and high concentration photovoltaic plants.

The PS20, a solar tower 20 megawatt plant, similar to the PS10 plant and a parabolic-trough collector demonstration plant are currently under construction."

Curiously enough, this kind of Power Plant was invented in Texas at the Univerisity of Houston. Its developers were Al Hildebrand and Lorin van Hull. Lorin is still active in solar.

The cost of the Spanish plant is running a little over 4 dollars a watt. Depending on the cost of money and actual capacity factors, that will create 15 to 20 cent per Kwh electricity. Hildebrand always thought the costs could be dropped well below that. There was a 10 MW version of this plant design built, complete with storage, in Barstow back in the 90s, and Sandia still has their pilot project that you can see off to the side when you land in Albuquerque.

The good news of course, is that the Europeans are moving forward.

The bad news is,

they are doing it

with our technology.

Maybe we are just being good too.

Or destructively stupid.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...


Your point about Spain's wonderful CSP plant accomplishments - and their ties to UH technologies REALLY hits home in such a sad way. Also in Houston at UH, Paul Chu founded the Texas Center for Superconductivity - current status of superconductors is they could be used as supercapacitors for electric transmission - at Rice University in Houston, Dr. Smalley's nanotubes can be used for supercapacitors and for more efficient electric transmission lines. We have SO much incredible technology - world leading technology located in the heart of the State of Texas, and yet, to date, Texas has NO Solar Industry! Coleman's TX SB 1222 offering around $100 Million in solar rebates may spur this industry. But honestly, we MUST have the will, desire and focus to make it happen. Texas could be even more successul with its Solar Industry than it has been with Wind.

And we could enjoy just as much prosperity, job growth, economic growth and good will as Europe or California have expereinced around their solar industries.

Congratulations to Spain and to Germany. Germany is building the world's largest PV plant in Oregon. That could happen in Texas too... but it has not.

10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry for my bad English...

Americans could be pionners in solar CSP technology but it isn't one only country technology.

The place of this plant is not chance.
Spain has one of the main centers on investigation CSP tech.
The PSA (Plataforma Solar de Alemria, Almeria Solar Platform)

12:05 AM  

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