Concentrating Solar Thermal Power Kuraymat (Egypt) exceeds expectations

Three months after commencing operation, the production at Egypt’s first major solar-thermal power plant exceeds expectations considerably. The solar field, based on parabolic trough technology developed by the Solar Millennium Group, generates nearly eight percent more energy on average than estimated. Kuraymat, situated some 100 kilometers south of Cairo, which went into commercial operation in June 2011, is a hybrid power plant with overall electric capacity of 150 megawatts (MW). In addition to solar energy, the plant also uses natural gas. This combination allows for 24-hour operation, saves natural gas resources and supplies nearly two million people with energy.

The solar technology for this reference project was delivered by Flagsol GmbH, a subsidiary of Solar Millennium AG (ISIN DE0007218406). Flagsol designed the solar field and the heat transfer fluid (HTF) system in the absorber pipes, delivered the control unit for the solar field and other key components. The solar field was installed and commissioned in cooperation with Egyptian general contractor, Orascom Construction Industries. Since receiving the operational acceptance certificate on June 1, 2011, Flagsol GmbH advises Orascom on operation and maintenance (O&M) of the solar field. Flagsol has six O&M experts on site to work on further improving the thermal performance of the solar field together with Orascom.

In Erlangen, Dr. Christoph Wolff, the CEO of Solar Millennium AG, explained, “Kuraymat is proof that our solar-thermal technology is efficient. In addition, the power plant impressively shows that the Desertec vision can be realized and creates local jobs in clean energy generation”.

In an assembly hall that was built especially for this purpose, more than 100 Egyptian technicians constructed around 2,000 collector units. The finished Skal-ET collectors measuring approx. six meters in height were then installed in the solar field in several hundred meter long rows of parabolic troughs. All the collectors in the solar field automatically and permanently track the sun. The Kuraymat location features average solar irradiation of more than 2,400 kilowatt hours per square meter and year. The solar field collects this solar energy by means of more than 53,000 parabolic mirrors with an overall surface of more than 130,000 square meters.

“Cooperation with our Egyptian partner, Orascom, works so well that we have, thus, established a basis for further cooperation in the region. Currently, we and Orascom participate together in the tender process for Morocco’s first solar-thermal power plant”, Klaas Rühmann, the Kuraymat project manager in charge at Flagsol, explains.

The international call for tenders and contract for the hybrid power plant in Kuraymat were issued by the Egyptian Energy Authority, NREA. Total costs amount to more than € 250 million, some 30 percent of which are attributable to the realization of the solar field. Thanks to the example set by the project, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) subsidized the solar field with about USD 50 million. Together, Flagsol and Orascom Construction Industries will operate the solar section of the power plant for a period of two years before it is handed over to the owner. The experience gained and empirical data, thus, collected are to be considered and used in future power plant projects.

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.

Solar Millennium AG (ISIN DE0007218406), Erlangen, is a company that operates globally in the renewable energy sector, with its main focus on solar power plants. Together with its subsidiaries and associates, the Company specializes in solar-thermal power plants, particularly parabolic trough plants, and has taken a global leadership position in this field.

Solar Millennium is striving to further extend its expertise in this area with the aim of achieving and securing sustainable technology leadership. The Company covers all important business sectors along the value chain for solar power plants: from project development and financing to technology and the turnkey construction and operation of power plants. Solar Millennium realized Europe’s first parabolic trough power plants in Spain as well as the first modern parabolic trough solar field in Egypt. In Blythe (California), Solar Millennium is presently developing the largest solar power plant in the world. Additional projects are planned around the world with a total capacity of several thousand megawatts. The current regional focus is on Spain, the U.S., the Middle East and North Africa.