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Europe's first commercial concentrating solar power plant inaugurated

Europe's first commercial concentrating solar power plant has been inaugurated in the southern Spanish city of Seville.

The 11 megawatt plant, whose construction was partly funded by the EU's Fifth Framework Programme, has been designed to produce 23 Gigawatt hours of electr...
Europe's first commercial concentrating solar power plant inaugurated
Europe's first commercial concentrating solar power plant has been inaugurated in the southern Spanish city of Seville.

The 11 megawatt plant, whose construction was partly funded by the EU's Fifth Framework Programme, has been designed to produce 23 Gigawatt hours of electricity a year - enough to supply 6,000 homes. The plant is managed by Spanish technology company Abengoa and will prevent the emission into the atmosphere of around 16,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) a year.

In concentrated solar power (CSP) systems, the sun's rays are reflected off mirrors which are positioned so that together, they concentrate the sun's power onto a single point, known as the solar receiver. Here the sun's energy is converted into heat.

In the Spanish project, which is called PS10, a central tower system is used. A total of 624 heliostats (sun-reflecting mirrors) reflect the solar radiation onto a solar receiver located at the top of a 115 metre high tower. Here the heat of the sun is used to produce steam, which in turn drives turbines to produce electricity. When in operation, the heliostats track the sun across the sky to ensure the system captures as much solar energy as possible.

The PS10 project is part of a wider scheme which will see a range of solar power technologies constructed at the site between now and 2013. When complete, the Sanlucar la Mayor Solar Platform will produce enough energy for 180,000 homes, and prevent the emission of over 600,000 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every year.

It is expected that the project will also boost Seville's economy; over 1,000 jobs will be created during the construction phase, in addition to the 300 service and maintenance jobs created to run the plant.

'These new technologies give Europe a new option to combat climate change and increase energy security while strengthening the competitiveness of the European industrial sector and creating jobs and growth,' said European Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs.

During the course of the Fifth and Sixth Framework Programmes, the European Commission has handed out €25 million to research projects working on CSP technologies.

The European Commission has also published a new map which shows the photovoltaic solar energy potential of different parts of Europe. Put together by the Joint Research Centre, the Photovoltaic Geographical Information System (PVGIS) allows people to work out how much energy can be generated from the sun at any location in Europe. The calculation is based on the sun's energy, the terrain and the available technologies. According to the map, Europe could make much greater use of solar energy than it does now.

Source: European Commission

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