The First Solar Plant That Generates Power At Night Officially Opened
The first solar plant in the world that can produce energy without exposure to sunlight have been officially opened.
The unconventional Germasolar power plant, worth of $410 million was especially developed to be able to generate electricity even at night. The solar plant stores heat which is used to supply the turbines at night, and it can generate power for 15 hours without the sun.
We are talking about a heliostatic solar plant, something like a solar furnace, which redirects the intense heat of the sunlight to a “collecting point” using not less than 2,600 mirrors concentrically placed. From there, the thermal energy is concentrated on two salt tanks. The 900C heat melts the salt, boiling water around it to drive turbines.
The huge tower and the 2,600 mirrors were set close to Seville, Spain, one of the sunniest areas in Europe.
The renewable technology like wind turbines are also conditioned by the weather, so every time the wind stops blowing, the wind plants stop generating power. Because they are based on solar heat, the Germasolar technology can fix this issue.
The Toressol officials say that the heat is stored in the salt tanks, then is used when the solar radiations are low. The salt transfers the stored heat and continue to generate power at night, too.
Currently, the solar plant that can generate power at night is not working at full capacity, and it’s estimated that it could reach 70% capacity by 2012.
There are several such plants around the world, but the one built by Teressol is the only one that can work for up to 24 hours.
The solar plant situated in Fuentes de Andalucia, near Seville, Spain, has 185ha and consists of 2,650 mirrors that reflect the sunlight and a 140 meters high tower.
The technical director of the plant, Santiago Arias, said that the facility produces more energy in the summer than in winter, but it can work the provide energy the whole yer, day and night.
The solar plant has the capacity to provide power for a 100,000 inhabitants city.
The solar plant is called Gemasolar and is result of a the partnership between Spain and UAE. Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Arabian state and Juan Carlos, the King of Spain, attended at the opening of the plant.
Feasibility studies for a bigger such solar plant were conducted, and the facility will be built in South Africa. “The ability to generate electricity even after dark is a monumental milestone for solar technology. No longer hamstrung by sunset, the Germasolar plant should be a competitive and comparable alternative to conventional power plants,” says Chris Haslam.