The plants will cover 260 hectares -equivalent to 364 soccer fields-, with 1,520 collectors and 364,800 mirrors receiving the sun's rays
ACCIONA is the first Spanish company with a commercially operational plant (Nevada Solar One, in the USA) that uses parabolic trough technology
ACCIONA Energy will build two thermal solar power plants (50 MW capacity each) in Palma del Río (Córdoba, southern Spain). The facilities represent an investment close to 500 million euros and their entry into service is planned for 2010. The plants will produce 244 million kilowatt-hours per annum, equivalent to the electricity consumption of 75,000 homes. ACCIONA is the first Spanish company with a commercially operational plant using parabolic trough technology -Nevada Solar One, in the USA-, the same technology that is used in the two projected Spanish plants. The company currently has over 2,000 MW under development in the USA and another 200 MW in Spain, in four plants.
The Palma del Río thermal solar project was presented today in an informative meeting attended by the Director of Thermal Electric Business of ACCIONA Energy, José Monzonís, and the mayor of Palma del Río, José Antonio Ruiz Almenara. The plants will cover 260 hectares on a site 4 miles from the town -a surface area equivalent to 364 soccer fields.
In two phases
Building work on the Palma del Río II plant, located further south, will start in the second semester of 2008; it is expected to be completed in the first semester of 2010. Work on Palma del Río I is expected to start in the first semester of 2009 and will be grid connected in the second semester of 2010.
Each of the projected plants (50 MW capacity) consists of 760 collectors and 182,400 parabolic trough mirrors. These concentrate solar radiation into 18,240 reception tubes located in the focal line. A fluid (oil) runs through these tubes that reaches a very high temperature (400º C). This fluid is sent from the solar filed to the power unit where the heat is transferred to a heat exchanger, through which water runs that turns into steam. The steam is taken to a turbine connected to a generator that produces electricity. Following its transformation to high voltage it will be evacuated to the grid through a substation at Villanueva del Rey (in the municipality of Écija).
Thermal solar power plants have a positive feature in that they generate more electricity in periods of high consumption: around midday in the hottest months, when demand for air conditioning is very high. This represents guaranteed capacity for the electric power system when it is most needed.
To date there has not been a commercially operational plant using parabolic trough technology in Spain. The eleven months of operation of the 64 MW facility in Nevada, owned by ACCIONA, have demonstrated the potential of this technology.
The fact that the company has applied its own technology in the areas of design, construction, operation and maintenance guarantee the reliability of this type of facility. Indeed, the technologists who developed Nevada Solar One are the same people who worked actively in the development of this technology in the 1980s and early 1990s in California.
In disuse since the early 1990s
Thermal solar power plants were developed to a great extent in the United States between 1985 and 1991 and nine facilities were installed -all in the Mojave desert, in California- with a total capacity of 354 MW. The two biggest (80 MW each) were built in 1990 and 1991. A series of incidents (problems in the owning company, the removal of production incentives, the deregulation of power supplies in California, and others) meant that no other plants of this type were built afterwards despite the existing energy potential. This situation started to change with the promotion of solar power in a number of states in the southwest of the USA, where the highest levels of solar radiation in the country are found.
In Spain, the national Renewable Energy Plan set the objective of 500 MW operational by 2010. ACCIONA expects to have completed four plants by then: the two at Palma del Río and two in Extremadura (Alvarado, already under construction, and Majadas); total capacity 200 MW.