Europe’s largest concentrating solar thermal power plant comes online

Solar Millennium holds inauguration ceremony for the Andasol 3 concentrated solar thermal power plant. Largest concentrated solar energy site on stream. Andasol concentrating solar power plants supply the electricity needs of half a million people. Storage technology enables electricity supply at night.

Today saw the festive inauguration of the Andasol 3 concentrating solar thermal power plant by a consortium of five German companies in the Spanish province of Granada. The completion of the third Andasol power plant on a site measuring some two square kilometres has meant the creation of the largest European solar power plant- located in Andalusia, southern Spain. Attending the power plant inauguration ceremony were the General Secretary of Industry and Energy for Andalusia, Isabel De Haro Aramberri, as well as boardmembers of those companies with a stake in Andasol 3: Stadtwerke München, RWE Innogy, RheinEnergie, Ferrostaal and Solar Millennium.

Dr. Kurt Mühlhäuser, Chairman of the SWM managing board: "Andasol 3 is a perfect example of how the energy transition needs to be realised at a European level. It can only succeed if the various parties involved – as here at Andasol 3 – are united in a common aim and if the political conditions are favourable. For SWM this power plant represents another major component in its drive to expand its renewables capacity. By 2025 we aim to be producing enough green electricity in our own installations to be able to meet the demand of the whole of Munich – that’s 7.5 billion kilowatt hours. Munich will thus become the first city in the world with over a million inhabitants to reach this target. With the ten-fold increase in our production capacity –already up and running or still in the planning – we are making huge strides in the right direction."

Dr. Hans Bünting, Chief Financial Officer of RWE Innogy: "Andasol 3 proves that converting Europe’s electricity production methods can be achieved far more efficiently if we take an international approach, rather than pursuing national concepts. I see this power plant as a role model for the rest of Europe; it may even generate the impetus needed for thedevelopment of a European market with common regulations for renewable energy sources."

Construction on Andasol 3 began in mid 2008. Thanks to high local levels of direct solar irradiation, Andalusia is one of a handful of locations in Europe that is ideally suited to solar thermal power generation. The power plant, with an installed output of 50 megawatts, was completed on schedule this summer. It is currently running in test mode; commercial operations are due to begin in the coming weeks. From that point on Andasol 3 will generate approximately 165 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year, saving some 150,000 tonnes of CO2 when compared with a modern hard coal-fired power plant. In all, the three more or less identical Andasol power plants can meet the electricity needs of about half a million people using power generated by solar energy.

"With the swift phase-out of nuclear energy and the huge challenges posed by the move towards renewables, with the new forms of power generation this entails, the involvement of the German municipal utilities is vital. The companies in Germany’s major cities in particular need to come up with innovative ways of meeting future energy needs. For several years now RheinEnergie has been pursuing its own conversion programme entitled "Energy and Climate 2020". Our portfolio of renewable energy sources to date has mainly focused on wind, biomass and photo-voltaic systems. With Andasol 3 we are investing in production technology which is likely, alongside wind and hydroelectric power,to become a major component of European energy supply", commented the managing director of RheinEnergie, Dr. Dieter Steinkamp.

The Andasol3 concentrating solar power plant is made up of approximately 205,000 parabolic reflectors which collect the sunlight. These giant curved mirrors concentrate the heat generated by solar energy and transmit it to a heat transfer fluid. A heat exchanger then feeds the thermal energy into a hot water/steam circuit. The steam drives the turbine, just as in a traditional power plant. The generator connected then produces the electricity. By using a thermal storage tank, any electricity generated during the day can subsequently be supplied on demand. The storage tank holds 30,000 tonnes of a special blend of salts. Its storage capacity is sufficient for eight hours. Meaning that Andasol 3 can go on generating electricity reliably and feeding it into the grid even after sundown. At peak times up to 600 people were involved in the construction of the power plant. About 50 permanent jobs in the operation and maintenance of the facility have been created.

Joachim Ludwig, executive board member with Ferrostaal AG: "The market potential of solar thermal powerplants is immense. That’s why we got involved in Andasol 3 from day one, providing financial backing for the development of the project. As a general contractor, we contributed our expertise gained from conventional power plant projects in the area of engineering, procurement and construction (EPC); we will continue to be involved in the project as co-owner following commissioning of the plant. Andasol 3 is a truly European project, which Spain has enabled by creating a positive political environment. It proves that pioneering work in the area of sustainable power generation can be achieved with committed partners and high-performance technology. Our thanks go to the authorities, local government and the numerous suppliers and their employees for their great cooperation."

Christian Beltle, member of the executive board of Solar Millennium: "Solar thermal power plants are a successful concept for sensible and predictable renewables-based energy on a grand scale. Spain has adopted a pioneering position in promoting this technology and has thus created the first European market for solar thermal power plants. As one of the prime movers, Solar Millennium was quick to recognise this potential and has consistently addressed its expansion. We were responsible for planning the three Andasol power plants and were involved in every single stage of their development – from initial concept to completed facility. The inauguration of the third power plant in this location is visible confirmation to us of our successful work in recent years."

The companies involved founded the project enterprise Marquesado Solar S.L. for the realisation of the Andasol 3 project. Stadtwerke München holds a 48.9 percent share, RWE Innogy and RheinEnergie a joint 25.1 percent via a holding company (RWE Innogy: 51 percent; RheinEnergie: 49 percent). Thirteen percent each is held by Ferranda GmbH (Ferrostaal) and the Andasol Kraftwerks GmbH (Solar Millennium).

Stadtwerke München (SWM) is one of the largest power and infrastructure companies in Germany. Over one million private households, commercial and business customers profit each day from SWM’s services and offerings. For decades SWM has supplied the Bavarian metropolis with power (electricity, natural gas, district heating) on a reliable and sustainable basis. The SWM expansion campaigns for renewable energies and the campaign for environment-friendly district heating, to name but two examples, serve as role models for other communities. SWM also supplies Munich with drinking water fresh from the source in the Bavarian alpine upland – one of the highest-quality waters in Europe – and operates 18 indoor and outdoor swimming pools in one of the most modern pool systems in Germany. The transport subsidiary MVG is responsible for the underground, buses and trams and is thus a major cornerstone in Munich’s local public transport network. The SWM Group employs some 7,500 people. In fiscal year 2010 the Group posted a turnover of around 3.8 billion euros.

Ferrostaal is a global provider of industrial services in plant construction and engineering. As a technology-independent system integrator, the company offers development and management of projects, financial planning and construction services for turnkey installations in the segments of Petrochemicals, Power, Solar, Oil & Gas and Special Projects. As a supplier-independent full service provider, Ferrostaal assembles complex modules for automotive manufacturers and suppliers, and trades as an independent sales and service partner with machines and installations in printing, plastics, packaging and recycling. Ferrostaal employs around 5,300 people in more than 40 countries. In 2010, its annual turnover amounted to 1.8 billion euros. 70% of the shares in Ferrostaal AG are held by the International Petroleum Investment Company from Abu Dhabi (IPIC), while 30% are owned by MAN SE (Munich, Germany).

Solar Millennium AG, Erlangen, (ISIN DE0007218406) is a global company which is active in the field of renewable energies and focuses on solar thermal power plants. Together with its subsidiaries and affiliated companies, it specialises in parabolic trough power plants and has achieved a leading position worldwide in this sector. Solar Millennium makes every effort to further enhance its expertise in the field of solar thermal power plants with the aim of establishing and sustaining its position at the cutting edge of technology. All the main business areas along the value chain for solar thermal power plants are covered: from project development and financing to the technology, right through to turnkey construction and operation of the plants. In Spain, Solar Millennium developed the first parabolic trough power plants in Europe and implemented these with partners. Further projects with an output of over 2,000 megawatts are being planned around the world, regional focuses here being at present Spain, the USA, India, China, the Middle East and North Africa.

RWE Innogy concentrates the skills and power plants of the RWE Group in the renewable energies sector and is rapidly enhancing these in Europe. The focus is on both onshore and offshore wind power projects. But RWE Innogy will grow in the water power and biomass business sectors, too. The company is also intensively involved in geothermal power and in wave and tidal power plants. Another central task is innovation. Here RWE Innogy does not limit itself to classical research and development, but also invests in selected technology companies which are extremely promising.

RheinEnergie, Cologne, is the municipal supplier of power and water in Cologne and the Rhine region. As the local supplier, RheinEnergie regards itself as bearing particular responsibility for climate protection which it lives up to with, among other things, its programme “Energy & Climate 2020”. In the context of this programme alone the company will provide 25 million euros in the coming five years, thereby generating investments of around 100 million euros for energy efficiency and climate protection. This will enable at least an additional 100,000 to 150,000 tons of CO2 to be saved. RheinEnergie is also one of the largest municipal owners of wind power plants in German, generating a total capacity of more than 100 MW.