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Monday, September 24, 2007

The Solar Tower in Seville: How It's Doing

Solar thermal power station   Image: BBC

"A dazzling idea in a dazzling location" says David Shukman, Science correspondent, BBC News." [This appeared a few months ago]

"It is Europe's first commercially operating power station using the Sun's energy this way and at the moment its operator, Solucar, proudly claims that it generates 11 Megawatts (MW) of electricity without emitting a single puff of greenhouse gas. This current figure is enough to power up to 6,000 homes.

"But ultimately, the entire plant should generate as much power as is used by the 600,000 people of Seville."It works by focusing the reflected rays on one location, turning water into steam and then blasting it into turbines to generate power.

...."So far, only one field of mirrors is working. But to one side I could see the bulldozers at work clearing a second, larger field - thousands more mirrors will be installed."

  1. The solar tower is 115m (377ft) tall and surrounded by 600 steel reflectors (heliostats). They track the sun and direct its rays to a heat exchanger (receiver) at the top of the tower
  2. The receiver converts concentrated solar energy from the heliostats into steam
  3. Steam is stored in tanks and used to drive turbines that will produce enough electricity for up to 6,000 homes

The company that runs it seems to be Solucar Energy, which also has other projects going, such as dish concentrators. They have just received 50 million Euros for further research, but I haven't been able to learn much more about it. But there appears to be a concentrating-solar conference planned in Seville, which will no doubt include a tour of the facility. Of interest: Greenpeace and Dow Chemical both plan to have speakers there. The upcoming conference news seems to be that an efficient way to store the heat overnight for round-the-clock power generation has been found. But will all this be in time? See this discussion.

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