The installation, located in Sevilla, Spain, is the world’s first solar power plant that could run 24 hours generating electricity. But how is it possible?
This plant, named Gemasolar, is using Concentrated Solar Power technology or CSP, in which solar light is not used as potential energy source as it occurs in photovoltaic. Gemasolar generates electricty from solar heat energy, reaching operating temperatures of over 500Cº (932 Fahrenheit). A central power tower is surrounded by heliostats that collect sunlight for the system, reflect sun’s energy to the central tower and heat it up, producing turbine’s rotation and generating electricity.
But, what happens at night? Heat energy unused during the day is kept in a molten salt tank, what provides an efficient and low-cost medium to storage thermal energy, permiting independent electrical generation for up to 15 hours without any sunlight. The prolongation of plant’s operating time in the absence of solar radiation and the improvement in efficiency of the use of the heat from the sun makes Gemasolar’s output much higher than that which is delivered by other technologies in a facility with the same power. (Torresol Energy)
Characteristics of the plant:
- Rated electrical power: 19,9 MW
- Net electrical production expected: 110 GW/year
- Solar field: 2650 Heliostats on 185 Hectares
According to Torresol, “the notable increase in plant’s power efficiency guarantees electrical production for 6,500 hours a year, 1.5 to 3 times more than other renewable energies. The plant will thus supply clean, safe power to 25,000 homes and reduce atmospheric CO2 emissions by more than 30,000 tons a year”.
Learn more about this plant in the following video: