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Spain to open world's biggest solar power tower

Solar TowerCreative Commons License Photo credit: afloresm

The Guardian reports that in the Andalucian deserts, 20 miles outside Seville, the Spanish company Abengoa will soon open up the world biggest solar power tower.

Over 1,000 mirrors, each “about half the size of a tennis court”, will be used to reflect sunlight to “superheat” water at a central tower. Once completed, at a cost of €80 million, the energy plant will generate 20MW of electricity to 11,000 Spanish homes.

“Concentrated solar power (CSP) technology, as it is known, is seen by many as a simpler, cheaper and more efficient way to harness the sun's energy than other methods such as photovoltaic (PV) panels. But CSP only works in places with clear skies and strong sunshine.

The Andalucian deserts are an ideal location, and Spain hopes the PS20 plant will enable it to take advantage of its huge solar resource and lead the field in CSP technology.

"The radiation hitting the earth is 10,000 times the consumption of energy," said José Domíngues Abascal, chief technology officer at Abengoa, the Spanish energy company behind the plant. "There is great potential in solar energy."”

The new solar tower, named PS20, is supported by the Spanish government who has promised to pay “a premium, known as a feed-in tariff, for any CSP electricity sent into the grid.” PS20 is part of Spain's efforts to meet the clean energy targets from the European Union which calls for 20% renewable energy by 2020. Spain says that the PS20 is part of a series of planned solar power plants around Spain. Which when finished is expected to generate up to 300MW of electricity, enough to power the whole of Seville and its 700,000 citizens.

The European commission also says that the CSP technology will be a part of its future clean energy technology plan. And that the technology could become a “major part” of the proposed EU supergrid between Europe and northern Africa.

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