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Torresol Energy, a joint venture between Masdar, Abu Dhabi's leading future energy company, and SENER, the leading Spanish engineering and construction firm, recently announced the commissioning of its flagship 19.9MW Gemasolar Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant in Seville, Spain.
Founded in 2008, Torresol Energy is a 40:60 Masdar-SENER joint venture. The company that commercially develops, manages construction, owns and operates CSP plants globally has been awarded a 25-year regulated tariff by the Spanish Government.
Torresol Energy's Gemasolar project received EUR171 million financing through a transaction that involved several leading European financial institutions including Banco Popular, Banesto, ICO and the European Investment Bank.
The world's first commercial-scale CSP plant featuring a central tower receiver with thermal storage capabilities has commenced supplying electricity to 25,000 homes in the Andalucía region of Spain. The plant is expected to save more than 30,000 tonnes of CO2 emission a year.
The innovative molten salt heat transfer technology deployed at the Gemasolar greenfield independent power project helps avoid fluctuations in power supply through a system that is capable of 15 hours of energy production without sunlight. This accordingly allows for generation of electricity 24 hours a day for many months of the year, even during the hours of darkness or poor daylight during winter.
The Gemasolar plant comprises 2,650 heliostats (mirrors) that stretch approximately 185 hectares. The system is capable of reaching temperatures exceeding 900-degrees Centigrade at the central receiver located at the top of the tower.
The tower technology uses molten salt as a heat transfer medium that reaches temperatures above 500 degrees Centigrade and allows delivering hotter and more pressurized steam to the turbine than the parabolic trough technology, which significantly increases the performance of the overall plant.
SENER was responsible for providing the technology, the engineering detail design and part of the EPC and commissioning works of the plant.
The technology developed by SENER includes state-of-the-art solutions such as the molten salt storage system and the receiver, which is able to absorb 95 per cent of the radiation from the sun's spectrum and transmit this energy to the molten salt compound that circulates within the receiver, which is then used to heat steam and operate the steam turbines.
Frank Wouters, Director of Masdar Power, said: "The commissioning of the CSP plant marks another key milestone in the development and deployment of solar energy in Europe. It also highlights Masdar's commitment to partner with global industry leaders such as SENER and bring clean technology closer to the community."
Miguel Domingo, Solar Business Director of SENER, added: "The on-schedule and on-budget completion of the construction and commissioning of the Gemasolar plant is a milestone for SENER. Currently, SENER is the only company in the world that has developed and built a commercial plant with central tower molten salt receiver technology that has already started operation."