China’s top legislator visits concentrated solar power plant in Spain

The Chairman of the National People’s Congress of China visits the Gemasolar concentrating solar thermal power plant. The concentrated solar power Gemasolar, located in the town of Fuentes de Andalucia, has received the visit of a delegation from China’s Government.

The concentrating solar power plant Gemasolar, located in the town of Fuentes de Andalucia, has received the visit of a delegation from China’s Government, led by the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China, Mr. Wu Bangguo, who was accompanied by other representatives from the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. This is the only electricity facility that the Chairman has visited during his trip to Spain.

Gemasolar is the first commercial concentrated solar power plant with central tower receiver and molten salt storage technology. Since entering into commercial operation, in May 2011 – an event that marked a milestone in the field of solar thermal energy world-wide – Gemasolar has awakened a great interest among international industry and political authorities. Its technology, developed by SENER over the years, gives the solar thermal sector a high efficiency, great flexibility and stability solution in the power supply. Since being launched, the plant’s performance has been highly satisfactory, exceeding the forecasts made for it, hitting all of its production goals.

The Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China, Mr. Wu Bangguo, was received by Torresol Energy’s President, Mr. Enrique Sendagorta, that stated: “from Torresol Energy we want to thank the Chinese Delegation for the time dedicated to discover our Gemasolar plant. This innovative plant, unique in the world, truly marks the beginning of a path that will lead to a future where solar thermal plants are fully competitive with other renewable generation sources.”

The Chinese Delegation, formed by 60 persons, was also accompanied by the Manager of the Industry Area of the Andalusian Government Subdelegation, Mr. Juan Manuel Gomez Tenorio, and by the General Manager of Industry, Power and Mines of the Andalusian Government, Ms. Eva Maria Vazquez Sanchez. The group was able to learn firsthand the plant’s technology and, also, received a technical explanation from Torresol Energy’s General Manager, Mr. Alvaro Lorente, who accompanied the delegation through the plant’s facilities.

Gemasolar, Torresol Energy’s flagship project, has a 19.9 MW nominal power and is capable of supplying 110 GWh of clean and safe energy annually, to supply 27,500 households. Furthermore, as a clean energy source, the plant is capable of reducing annual CO2 emissions by more than 30,000 tons.

All this due to a state-of-the-art technology, developed by the Engineering and Construction company SENER, that includes a molten salt storage system which allows the plant to continue producing electricity for 15 hours without sunlight, meaning it can continue to operate during the night or during cloudy weather. Thanks to this storage capacity, Gemasolar becomes a manageable electricity plant, capable of supplying power responding to the grid’s demand and independently of the solar radiation. In this regard, it is worth mentioning that in summer time Gemasolar can supply 24hrs of uninterrupted production per day if there is a demand requiring it. To date, no other solar plant in the world in commercial operation has achieved this milestone.

Along with the high temperature storage system, Gemasolar has many other innovations, developed by SENER, such as the molten salt receiver, the heliostat pointing mechanism and the control system. All of them make this plant’s efficiency significantly superior to other solar thermal electricity plants in commercial operation today.

Gemasolar has been recognized with several national and international awards, from the US CSP Today award in the ‘Commercialized Technology Innovation USA 2011’ category, to the European CSP Today Awards, that awarded Torresol Energy in the categories "Commercialized Technology Innovation 2011" and "Most Effective Project Development 2011" for this outstanding plant. In the same vein, SENER won the top prize for Innovation in the 2011 European Business Awards, thanks to Gemasolar and also received the European Business Awards for the Environment – Basque and Spanish Division – for this project, being awarded in the category of Sustainable Development Process. SENER was also the only Spanish company to be finalist in the European Division (final competition) of this important prize that, biennially, presents the European Commission.