Last week I was bemoaning the lack of political leadership in terms of climate change and the need to cut carbon emissions. Technologically a lot is happening that is to be celebrated. I have frequently written about the potential of concentrating solar power (CSP), praised Spanish technological leadership during the first decade of the current century and lamented the Rajoy governments abandoning of support, and in February posed the question Where Next for CSP. In March I wrote about CSP in Chile. There are lots of interesting global developments that I want to write about as and when they come into operation.
Abengoa is one of the main Spanish companies that pioneered the technology over the last decade and a half. As the Spanish market collapsed they have concentrated more of their work elsewhere. In October they completed the 280 MW Solana power plant at Gila Bend, near Phoenix, Arizona. Like most CSP plants it utilizes parabolic trough reflectors to capture the sun’s heat and generate steam and so via a turbine, electricity. Molten salt is used to provide 6 hours of heat storage, meaning that electricity can be generated in hours of darkness or in cloudy weather. This project is large enough to supply 70,000 Arizona households with reliable renewable low carbon electricity. The $2 billion investment was facilitated by the Obama government’s loan guarantee scheme. Now it is up and running banks and venture capitalists can see it works and have the confidence to invest, as evidenced by Liberty Interactive Corporation investment of $300 million in Solana this October. This project has created thousands of jobs in a supply chain across much of the USA as well as in the massive construction site. Water is a critical issue in this semi-desert area, and interestingly the plant will use less water than was used by the previous agricultural land use. This seems like another project worth celebrating!
Solana Factsheet (very clear and concise) http://www.abengoasolar.com/export/sites/abengoasolar/resources/pdf/Solana_factsheet_09092013.pdf
Global list of CSP plants http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_solar_thermal_power_stations
Wikipedia on Solana http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solana_Generating_Station