Why Concentrated Solar Power ?
Some people may wonder at the name of this website. Solar Thermal, I mean why solar thermal right? It is because of projects like this below where a combination of concentrated solar thermal power technologies are coming together to create a power plant that uses no fossil fuels, no dangerous nuclear materials and zero emissions. Only to use the thermal power of the sun.
This is the reason we created Solar Thermal Magazine, to help bring awareness of the technologies that will allow the world to be fossil fuel free someday ( soon we hope). In fact, our future on this planet depends on it.
Our Oceans are warming very fast and entire eco-systems such as coral is disappearing forever.
Most of our energy options come from the sun, either right away of from millions of years ago. Solar pv uses the light from the sun to excite electrons to move, while solar heating causes the winds and the waves to move around the planet.
Fossil fuels as the name implies relies on the decomposition under pressure of living things from millions of years ago. ( so much for the nay sayers of evolution right?). This ancient sun ( the same one we have today ) was needed to for life also back then.
We owe oil,natural gas, gasoline,aviation fuel, tar, asphalt, plastic and some much more to this ancient solar energy.
However, it is likely that we all have waited too long to stop using old fuel sources. We can no longer afford to release the carbon dioxides of the dinosaur age into our atmosphere of today. Curbing the release of additional CO2 must be a primary concern if we are ever to have a hope of saving our planet for our kids to enjoy.
Storing Heat Versus Storing Electricity.
There are now so many technologies that can produce clean electricity ( without emissions) including Solar photo-voltaic and wind turbines, but really there is only one very good option ( so far ) to store energy, that is by storing heat. In a concentrated solar thermal generator, regardless of the type, heat is collected before using it to generate electricity which gives us an additional option, mainly storing the thermal energy ( heat).
This article highlights the work of one Concentrated Solar Power ( CSP ) company named Abengoa Solar and we have included as many pictures as possible for those of you that like to thump your smart phone ( me too). This CSP complex is being built in the solar intensive country of Africa, where electricity is badly needed for a growing economy. An economy that is trying to decide whether to go down the same wrong road for energy as the western world or head down the road of sustainable clean energy.
Khi Solar One.
Khi Solar One is a thermosolar technology plant of superheated steam tower, the first with these characteristics in the world, with a capacity of 50 MW, which allows to supply clean energy to approximately 45,000 South African homes. The plant began its commercial operation on February 2, 2016.
The company has achieved this milestone thanks to the storage system of Khi Solar One developed by Abengoa’s R & D teams, which accumulates steam at high temperature and pressure, allowing the generation of electricity after sunset.
This system is capable of generating 50 MW for two hours. However, the drop in night energy consumption means that it is not necessary to operate the plant at maximum power. Using this system, the operation team of Abengoa, IDC and Khi Community Trust in Khi Solar One has been able to produce electricity for 24 hours using only steam generated with solar energy and meeting energy needs.
This milestone shows a successful progression in the progress of the operation of this innovative plant.
Khi Solar One is the result of the important research and development work led by Abengoa. Specifically, for the execution of this large-scale project at commercial level, Abengoa previously operated a plant with a capacity of 5 MWt, located at the Solúcar Platform. The experience in the operation of the pilot plant allowed to optimize the technology and served as a reference for the financing of the project. All this work has resulted in the start-up of a plant with an increase in efficiency, performance and production in terms of cost compared to previous models. All this has made it possible for the first time, Abengoa operate a solar-powered tower plant for 24 hours.
This project also offers numerous environmental and socioeconomic benefits. Its operation prevents the emission of 183,000 tons of CO2 per year, offering the necessary energy to supply the growing South African electricity demand in a sustainable way. Likewise, the plant has fostered local socioeconomic development with the participation of a large number of local companies. Likewise, the inclusion of members of the local community in the shareholding of the project through Khi Community Trust guarantees the continuity of the investment in the community.
Xina Solar One.
Next to this plant, Abengoa, IDC, PIC and KaXu Community Trust are currently building another 100 MW parabolic trough plant, Xina Solar One, in this case with a storage system that will allow the plant to operate for five hours in the absence of sunlight.
These projects demonstrate the commitment of Abengoa, IDC, PIC, Khi and Kaxu Community Trusts to the development of renewable energies in South Africa within the framework of the government’s strategy to obtain up to 17,800 MW of renewable energy by 2030, thus reducing dependence on oil and natural gas.
It is easy to see from this just how possible it is for technologies like concentrated solar power to step into our battle to replace fossil fuels without moving to nuclear energy.
Gordon's expertise in the area of industrial energy efficiency and alternative energy. He is an experienced electrical engineer with a Masters degree in Alternative Energy technology. He is the co-founder of several renewable energy media sites including Solar Thermal Magazine.