In case you are interested in solar power, you might already know that the largest solar power plant of the world can be found in Spain and it goes by the name of Andrasol. The latest news regarding the plant is that the third unit has been commissioned a little while ago. The first two units have been working since 2008.
The latest unit is just like the previous two. All of them have a capacity of 50 MW and they cost about 300-50 million Euros. The plant has been created by a consortium of German companies.
The majority of the solar panels are using photovoltaic modules, but in this case the engineers decided to use parabolic reflectors. They have done this so that they can collect the sunrays and concentrate them on the collector tube. This collector is made of salt and potassium nitrate and sodium mixture.
The main point of the parabolic concentrators in this case is to heat the molten salt to high temperatures, more than it would be needed, and this extra heat is stored for producing steam after the sun goes down. All of the units have storage tanks of this kind. With the help of these tanks, the plant is able to produce electricity for 7.5 hours after the sun goes down. This means that the plant can produce 3500 hours of electricity per year, almost double as the daylight hours.
The plant can be found in Andalusia, and the location is just perfect for numerous points of view. It is located at a height of 1100 meters and the climate is semi-arid. There is a low population density and there are no companies around that would cause pollution. Due to this, the sky is clear and so the panels receive about 2000 hours of direct sunlight yearly.
On the other hand we also have to note that on a yearly basis the plant uses about 560 million liters of fresh water. Although in locations of this kind rarely can we find sources of water, Andalusia is full of underwater springs, and so the plant gets all the water it needs.
The creators of the plant were hoping that the project would be successful enough to make it possible to build other units. Nonetheless they are also considering other locations similar to this one too, such as Morocco and Egypt.
(photo credit: www.independent.co.uk)