GE Supplying Concentrating Solar Power Steam Turbines For Spanish Plants

The role of concentrated solar energy (CSP) in global renewable energy supply depends upon positive regulatory environments that encourage investment and the availability of proven technologies that efficiently meet capital investment and operating expenditure objectives.

To deliver reliable innovation in the Concentrating Solar Power industry, GE Oil & Gas has exploited its petrochemical industry steam turbine technology expertise for the commercialization of the first GE 50-megawatt steam turbines developed for large-scale parabolic trough solar thermal applications.

Three GE Oil & Gas 50-megawatt turbine units will be deployed by Acciona Energy by the end of March 2011 for milestone solar power projects in Spain: one train at the new CSP plant in Majadas, Spain and two at the company’s Palma del Rio facilities. The Concentrating Solar Power projects mark the first time that GE has designed CSP trains with generators located between two steam turbines: a reheat configuration to increase the overall cycle efficiency and systems’ capacity.

Claudi Santiago, President and CEO, GE Oil & Gas said: “Concentrated solar power will play an increasingly important role in cleaner and renewable energy supply. Spain, in particular, has led the global CSP industry with plans to increase its solar power capacity by 300% over the next decade. GE Oil & Gas is proposing to help support that growth with larger, innovative and more efficient generating technology, demonstrating our commitment to investing in the next generation of cleaner energy solutions.”

The 50-MW unit technology is the latest evolution of GE’s advanced steam turbine technology. It is capable of providing a reliable and robust solution with a layout configuration able to combine both steam turbine optimized efficiency and an overall cycle efficiency above 39%.

Since 2007, GE steam turbine technology has powered several CSP plants across Spain. In particular, an 11-MW Abengoa Solar Tower plant in Seville – the first commercial CSP plant in Europe; and, two 15-MW Linear Fresnel plants (Novatec Biosol and EBL) in Calasparra – the world’s first large scale linear plants. As well as Acciona Energy’s 50-MW plants, GE turbine technology has also powered its Majadas and Palma Del Rio I and II facilities. In addition, the Dioxipe Solar consortium’s (comprising Aries Ingeniería y Sistemas, Elecnor Group and ABN Amro Global Infrastructure Fund) 50-MW Parabolic Trough CSP plant in Badajoz will begin operation in 2011, underpinned by GE advanced steam turbine technology and cycle efficiency optimization.

Last year, GE Oil & Gas received CSP Today’s Best Applied Research and Development award for innovation in CSP, presented in conjunction with the 3rd EU Concentrated Solar Thermal Power Summit in Seville, Spain.

The CSP process involves directing sunlight through an optical device, such as a lens or a mirror, and concentrating it onto a receiver that transforms it into heat energy. The thermal energy produced from this process is then used to generate steam, which in turn drives a steam turbine connected to an electric generator to create electricity for the power grid.

GE’s steam turbine design has been enhanced to increase cycle efficiency and to withstand the thermo-mechanical stresses caused by the daily startups and shutdowns of CSP plants. Since the intensity of solar radiation changes throughout the day or throughout various seasons, GE’s CSP steam turbines have been optimized to handle a wide steam-flow range.

Acciona Energy is the current world-leading company in operational CSP capacity and one of the largest operators in the renewable energy sector in the world, with solar energy, wind energy, hydro, biomass, cogeneration and biofuels assets totaling more than 7,400 megawatts.