Jan 192012


The Gemasolar facility represented a significant breakthrough in the global solar energy industry

The Gemasolar Concentrated Solar Power facility represented a significant breakthrough in the global solar industry and an important new field of cooperation between Spain and the UAE.

Torresol Energy, a joint venture between Masdar – Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company and SENER – the Spanish engineering and construction firm, announced today at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi that the Valle 1 and Valle 2 plants – two identical 50 MW parabolic trough plants, located in Cadiz, in the South of Spain, have commenced commissioning on January 2012. The plants are equipped with thermal storage which will allow them to continue to produce power, even when there is no solar radiation, for up to 7.5 hours.

In October 2011, under the patronage of His Majesty the King of Spain Juan Carlos I and His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces, Torresol Energy officially inaugurated Gemasolar in Fuentes de Andalucia, Spain.

The Gemasolar facility represented a significant breakthrough in the global solar energy industry and an important new field of cooperation between Spain and the UAE.

The announcement was made during a press conference held by the President of Torresol Energy, Enrique Sendagorta; the General Manager of Torresol Energy, Alvaro Lorente; the Director of Masdar Power, Frank Wouters; the Acting Chief Operating Officer of Masdar, Trevor Nash; and the President and CEO of SENER, Jorge Sendagorta.

Construction on Valle 1 and Valle 2 began in December 2009, and was completed in December 2011. In January 2012 the plants were connected to Spanish national grid for commercial operations. Roughly 4,500 workers worked over 2,700,000 hours to build and launch the twin projects during the two construction years.

SENER led the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract for the two projects, as project manager, and has provided 100% of the technology and engineering for both plants. From the outset, the two plants were built sequentially, including processing various types of supplies, overseeing multiple contractors, providing quality control of the execution and, above all, planning and supervising construction as it progresses.

Each of the plants will produce 160 GWh of power per year, equivalent to the amount of power consumed by 40,000 households. Together, the two plants will cut CO2 emissions by approximately 90,000 tons/year. The thermal storage of the plants allows them to continue producing energy for 7.5 hours at full power capacity without sunlight. Solar power thus becomes a source of manageable energy capable of supplying to the grid based on power demand, regardless of whether it is day or night or if the weather is cloudy.

During the press conference, Enrique Sendagorta, President of Torresol Energy, said: “With these twin plants in Spain, Torresol Energy completes the first stage of our Strategic Plan. We now have three plants up and running, Valle 1 & Valle 2 and Gemasolar, in the South of Spain, and a proven track record that we can operate and carry out the maintenance of CSP plants both in power tower technology and parabolic trough technology. We expect to start soon on other CSP projects in different countries located in what is referred to as the sun-belt region.”

The General Manager of Torresol Energy, Alvaro Lorente, declared: “It is worth mentioning that, due to the financial strength of Torresol Energy’s partners, SENER and Masdar, the Valle 1 and Valle 2 projects were financed through seven Spanish commercial banks in 2009 for a total financing of EUR 540 million, despite the global financial crisis. This operation was awarded the Project Finance Deal of the Year 2009 in the Clean Energy Sector by EuroMoney.”

“Now that the two plants have started commissioning, we have a complete team of Operations & Maintenance (O&M) personnel that has been trained during 2011 to be able to operate and carry out the maintenance of these plants from day one,” added Lorente.

Frank Wouters, Director of Masdar Power, said: “Getting Valle 1 & 2 into commercial operations has been a significant achievement for us. Getting Gemasolar, Valle 1 & 2 and (later this year) Shams One into operation means we already have over 200MW of CSP plants in operation globally. In addition, Masdar and Torresol Energy are exploring further business development opportunities to grow our CSP presence worldwide, including the MENA region where we also see a terrific opportunity in the solar space.”

Lastly, Jorge Sendagorta, President and CEO of SENER, added: “SENER is leading the concentrating solar thermal power sector worldwide, with 24 plants in Spain, US and India that represent 1,500 MWe installed or under construction and 1,000,000 CO2 tons saved per year. We develop new innovations in every new project with the aim of improving our technology in order to reduce the investments cost of these plants. Besides, SENER has been in charge of the sequential construction of Valle 1 and Valle 2, a challenge for our project management team, and this has allowed us to improve the schedule and budget of the works.”

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