Helioenergy 1, the first of the two identical concentrated solar energy plants, started commercial operations on September 1, 2011. Helioenergy 2 is planned to come online later this year.
The size of the two solar thermal power stations is impressive, spreading over 220 hectares. The area, corresponding to more than 300 soccer fields, is home for 121,000 installed mirrors which concentrate sunlight and generate steam at a temperature of 400 degrees. The steam then drives two 50-MW turbines which generate electricity.
The renewable energy generated will cover the average energy needs of 52,000 households and prevents 63,000 tons of CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere each year.