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Sunny Spain to Host Europe's First Large Solar Thermal Plant

MADRID, Spain, June 30, 2006 (ENS) - Construction of the first large-scale commercial solar thermal power plant in Europe will soon begin in Spain, about 60 kilometers (40 miles) from the southern city of Granada. The European Investment Bank announced Thursday that it is providing a first 60 million euro installment of funds to the project.

The new concentrating solar thermal power generation plant will have a net capacity of 50 megawatts of electricity.


The city of Granada in southern Spain will be the site of Europe's largest solar thermal generating station. (Photo courtesy )
It will also test a new high temperature thermal storage system utilizing molten salt to extend the daily electricity generation to over 12 hours in winter and up to 20 hours in summer.

The power plant is designed to generate electricity continuously to the grid when in operation.

The project is the first phase of development at this site, a second similar phase is to be implemented shortly after.

Generating power from the renewable solar source will replace the need for more polluting fossil fuel generating stations, contributing to national and European Union efforts to use indigenous renewable energy to avert climate change.

The project supports Spainís policy to develop 200 megawatts of solar thermal generation capacity.

The project benefits from EU research funding and contributes to the deployment and commercialization of new technology, reducing the costs of future applications.

The EU aims to have the new solar thermal technology become cost-competitive with established technology.

To raise energy conversion and operating efficiency and to reduce costs, the Granada project incorporates EU innovative elements that enhance the solar thermal technology developed in the United States.

Immediate social benefits include some 45 permanent new jobs and about 1,000 staff years of temporary jobs during construction.

The finance is being provided to the special purpose company AndaSol-1 Central Termosolar Uno, S.A.. This company is 75 percent owned by ACS, the third largest construction company in Europe.

The remaining 25 percent is owned by Solar Millenium, a German a technology and services company that specializes in large-scale solar thermal power plants.

Sunny Spain is becoming a solar energy center. Last week solar experts from around the world gathered at the 13th annual International Symposium on Concentrating Solar Power and Chemical Energy Techologies. One of the activities was a technical field trip to PS10, a solar thermal tower generating station at Seville.


The PS10, a new 11 megawatt solar thermal tower plant in Seville, Spain is smaller than the facility planned for Granada. (Photo courtesy Solar PACES)
In April, Santander Bank and Madrid-based BP Solar announced they would invest 160 million euros in solar photovoltaic power installations, the largest PVC solar investment in Europe to date.

The agreement reached between the two companies will allow for the construction of up to 278 photovoltaic solar power installations in Spain with total capacity of 18-25 megawatts of power, doubling the current PVC generating capacity in the country.

Each photovoltaic power plant will have an average power between 90 and 100 kilowatts. The construction of the plants began in May and is expected to finish in December 2007.

Santander-BP Solar project is part of a series of initiatives promoted by the private sector within the context of the Kyoto Protocol, and calls for the reduction of the total amount of greenhouse gases emitted in Spain.

To avert global warming, the initiatives aim to substitute non-renewable installed power with installed power drawn on renewable zero-emission sources of energy.

In March, BP Solar announced the completion of the largest photovoltaic installation in the Valencia region in the town of Onda, in Castellon province.

Six solar plants are built on the same site, each owned by a private investor, who all commissioned BP Solar to design the installation, supply the equipment and set up each plant. A total of 3,744 BP solar PVC panels were installed.

The land where these plants have been located have no agricultural use, so BP Solar says the environmental impact of the site has been low. The complex is located in an area where there is no shade and it has been designed to respect the surroundings as far as possible.

Overall, the six installations will generate 828,000 kilowatt hours per year. The total amount of electricity produced by the plants represents a saving of over 800 metric tons of CO2 emissions per year and it is equivalent to a planting of 50,000 trees.

BP Solar estimates that the electricity to be produced is equivalent to the consumption of 200 families.

The Onda project was funded by Spain's Official Credit Institute and the Institute of Diversification and Energy Saving.

Spain is one of the most attractive countries with regard to the development of solar energy, as it has the greatest amount of available sunshine of any country in Europe. Spain is the fourth largest manufacturer in the world of solar power technology and exports 80 percent of this output to Germany.

The Spanish government is committed to achieving the target of 12 percent of primary energy from renewables by 2010 with an installed solar generating capacity of 400 megawatts.

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