The assembly of all parabolic trough collectors in Egypt has been completed

 Reference project for the entire region: Solar thermal power generation in North Africa as first sign for the feasibility of the DESERTEC concept.

The final collector unit for Egypt’s first ever solar thermal large-scale facility has been assembled and installed in the solar field at Egypt’s Kuraymat project site, some 100 km south of Cairo.

The technology for the parabolic trough solar field comes from Flagsol GmbH in Cologne, a technology company jointly owned by the Erlangen based Solar Millennium AG (ISIN DE0007218406) and Ferrostaal AG, based in Essen. The engineers in Cologne designed the solar field and supplied the controls for the solar field.

Moreover, the international technology company is responsible for supplying important key components, especially the parabolic mirrors and absorber pipes. The construction and commissioning of the solar field is taking place in cooperation with the Egyptian company Orascom Construction Industries.

Overall, almost 2,000 collectors with mirrors covering 130,000 square metres have been assembled and installed in the solar field. Each unit is 12 metres long and 6 metres wide. The collectors were assembled by specialists in the purpose-built assembly hall before their optical precision was controlled by a photogrammetric device.

The collectors were then taken to the solar field where the last absorber pipes and controls are being installed. At the same time, the first rows of collectors are already being commissioned. Klaas Rühmann, Flagsol’s project manager in charge of the project explains, "We thus initially test the basic functionalities and the controls for tracking the sun".

The heat transfer circuit for the entire solar field should also be commissioned successively starting in April. This involves a heat transfer medium, which flows through the absorber pipes in the focal line of the solar collectors and which is heated up to about 400 degrees Celsius by the concentrated solar radiation.

This thermal energy will be fed into the power station unit as soon as this unit has been completed by the company in charge. Commissioning of the entire power plant is scheduled to take place in autumn 2010.

The hybrid power plant with 150 Megawatt capacity uses both natural gas and solar energy to generate electricity. The power plant is being built on behalf of the Egyptian New and Renewable Energy Authority NREA. The hybrid power plant was put out to international tender and the total cost will amount to more than € 250 million, about 30% of which is allocated to the realisation of the solar field.

Flagsol and Orascom Construction Industries will run the solar part of the power plant for two years after commissioning, before it is finally handed over to the owners. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) has granted a USD 50 million subsidy for the solar field due to the project’s exemplary status.

Rühmann comments on the progress of the construction work, "Our team is keeping good time. Cooperation with our Egyptian partner has worked very well. All employees are happy to have played a part in enabling this large solar plant. It is a reference project for the entire region. Commissioning of the overall power plant can begin as soon as the conventional power block has also been completed."

Dr. Thomas Thaufelder, Managing Director at Flagsol comments, "Of course we are quite proud that our pioneering work has been able to make a mark in Egypt – also in view of the implementation of the DESERTEC concept. An important goal of the international industry initiative Dii is to generate solar power for use in the North African states before it is exported to Europe. This initial project can soon demonstrate the successful implementation of this goal."

Solar Millennium AG, Erlangen, is an international company in the renewable energy sector, with its main focus on solar-thermal power plants and Concentrating Solar Power. Together with its subsidiaries and associates, the Company specializes in parabolic trough power plants and has managed to take a globally leading position in this field.

Solar Millennium strives to further extend its expertise in the area of solar-thermal power plants with the aim of achieving and securing sustainable technology leadership. As such, the Company covers all important business sectors along the value chain for solar-thermal power plants: from project development and financing to the technology and the turnkey construction and operation of power plants.

In Spain, Solar Millennium developed Europe’s first parabolic trough power plants and realized these together with partners. Additional projects are planned around the world with an overall capacity of more than 2,000 megawatts: here the current regional focus is on Spain, the US, India, China, the Middle East and North Africa.

Concentrating Solar Power or Solar-thermal power plants generate electricity by converting solar radiation into heat energy. In a parabolic trough power plant, trough-shaped mirrors concentrate the incidental radiation onto a pipe in the focal line of the collector.

Its absorption heats a fluid heat medium in the pipe, generating steam in the power block through a heat exchanger. As in conventional power plants, the steam powers a turbine to generate electricity. By integrating thermal storage, electricity can be supplied on demand, even after sunset.