Monday, 18 Jul, 2011 Environment

New Solar Power Plant in Spain Produces Energy 24/7


Recently a company called Torresol Energy managed to solve one of the biggest issues linked with harnessing solar energy.

It managed to create a 19.9 megawatt Gemasolar concentrated solar power plant, which is located in Andalucia province, Spain. The plant features 2 tanks of molten salt that gather heat energy produced throughout the day. Thus it can generate electricity 24 hours a day.

The term "solar plant" is often associated with a plant that makes use of solar panels to produce energy. However, Gemasolar represents a plant that belongs to the category of Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) plants. These solar plants make use the sun's energy to heat a certain fluid, be it water or molten salt, to produce steam. The latter drives a turbine to produce power.

The plant consists of thousands of square meters of mirrors (and not solar panels). These mirrors are used to concentrate the same sunlight in one point (similar to when you use a magnifying glass). Then the fluid that flows past the focal point heats up to hundreds of degrees Celsius and makes use of the heat to power a turbine.

The new solar plant consists of 60 percent potassium nitrate and 40 percent sodium nitrate and the fusion of the two allows retaining 99 percent of the heat energy produced by the plant. This energy is later reused.

The somewhat small Gemasolar plant will be able to generate about 110,000 MWh of energy each year, which is enough to supply with energy over 25,000 homes.

It is worth mentioning that the plant was designed to work 6,500 hours annually. This concentrated solar power plant was officially launched in May 2011. More information on the project can be found here.

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