Cutting-edge solar power plant inaugurated in Spain
Gemasolar is the first power plant that generates solar energy 24 hours a day without interruption. Its innovative technology and commercial focus represent a breakthrough in the solar industry.
Seville, in the Spanish region of Andalusia, is home to Gemasolar, the first commercial solar power plant in the world that can generate electricity even without sunshine. This is due to the use of molten salt, rather than oil, as a transfer fluid. More than 2 600 mirrors spread across 185 hectares concentrate the sun’s rays on to a giant receiver at the centre of the plant to heat up the liquid salt. The temperature, over 500 degrees Celsius is much higher than plants with parabolic trough technology. In turn, these higher temperatures generate hotter, pressurised steam to drive the turbines with greater efficiency. The salt storage capacity allows the plant to supply energy to the grid for up to 15 hours when there is no sunshine, for instance at night and during cloudy periods.
With a capacity of 19.9 MW, Gemasolar can supply electricity to some 27 500 households in the South of Spain. Its annual production is the equivalent of the energy generated in a conventional thermal plant burning 89 000 tons of lignite or the converted energy of 217 000 oil barrels. The plant is therefore expected to save more than 30 000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.
A flagship for innovative solar power
“We want to become a global company that develops the use of concentrated solar power as a sustainable source of energy and therefore contribute to the protection of the environment for future generations,” says Enrique Sendagorta, President of Torresol Energy, a joint venture between the Spanish engineering group SENER and Masdar, the government of Abu Dhabi’s renewable energies development company. Gemasolar was formally inaugurated by Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan and King Juan Carlos of Spain last October.
Gemasolar is the flagship project of Torresol Energy. It recently won the US CSP Today 2011 award for ‘Commercialised Technology Innovation of the Year’, as well as the Ruban d’Honneur title in the prestigious European Business Awards.
This state-of-the-art project is leading the way in new solar thermal electricity generation technology. The EIB has provided financial support with a EUR 80m loan. Gemasolar is one of a series of seven concentrated solar power (CSP) and 19 photovoltaic (PV) power plants financed by the Bank since 2006 with a total of EUR 2.6bn. Developing innovative clean and climate-resilient technologies is a key priority in the Bank’s lending for climate action.