The Gemasolar solar thermal plant, developed by the engineering and technology group SENER, which is also the plant’s owner through its subsidiary Torresol Energy, has been awarded with the DESERTEC 2014 Awards. The DESERTEC Foundation has chosen this project, in competition with three other renewable energy facilities, for its vision for the future and innovative technology, in addition to its ability to be replicated in many areas around the world, especially in arid regions.
The award ceremony took place on April 8 at DESERTEC’s stand at the Hannover trade fair. Torresol O&M Technical Director, Santiago Arias, collected the award and, during his speech, he highlighted that “Gemasolar is able to produce three times more energy than a normal plant having the same power and operating under the same irradiation conditions. And this is due to the fact that Gemasolar is working more hours per year than any other solar or wind power plant in the world.” He also showed his pride, as an engineer, for his implication in the development of this innovative project, stating: “the best award in life is to have the opportunity to participate in a technology company like SENER, developing innovative projects such as Gemasolar, recognized as one of the world’s major engineering projects.” Lastly, Torresol O&M Technical Director thanked DESERTEC, in the name of SENER, for its efforts to promote renewables energies: “Let’s imagine a scenario in which, in the near future, these sunny countries of the world, including the south of Europe and the north of Africa, will be literally covered with PV and CSP plants with storage, providing a reliable, sustainable and affordable energy to meet the local requirements, driving the country development, providing adequate jobs and being able to export energy at reasonable prices to the Central European countries.”
Gemasolar is the worldwide first solar thermal plant to use, at a commercial scale, central tower receiver technology along with a high temperature molten salt storage system and the only one to produce power round the clock exclusively by means of solar energy, performance obtained thanks to its innovative technology developed by SENER. In this regard, Gemasolar is a prime example of renewable energy dispatchability since it can produce electricity at any time and not only when weather conditions so permit, thus being capable of supplying power to the grid depending on the demand. This technology converts solar thermal energy into one of the key energy sources of the future and a solution for desert regions around the globe receiving a high amount of sunshine.
In commercial operation since 2011, Gemasolar is today a successful project that stands out for its high efficiency; for example, in the summer of 2013 it achieved continuous production operating for 36 consecutive days. Its innovative construction design and technological advances have been continuously recognized by the industry with several prizes; the last recognition was the Engineering Firm of the Year Award granted to SENER for its leadership in this project by the magazine The European in the first edition of The European Energy Awards 2013. In 2013 Gemasolar also received the Award of Merit granted by the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC for its Spanish acronym) recognizing the facility as one of the best global engineering works of the past 100 years.
DESERTEC is a non-profit foundation dedicated to promoting the vision of a global energy transition through the development of high-performance industrial plants that use the renewable energy sources available in arid regions such as solar energy. Climate change, energy security and technological advance are key elements in the concept of DESERTEC. This organization coordinates the activities of an international network of volunteers, including both individuals and universities and companies, which present and foster the concept of DESERTEC through dialog and education. The foundation works to ensure that a sustainable, modern and CO2-free energy source is available for a large number of people.