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06 May 2010

Solar energy "Club Med" touts technological advances

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Mediterranean developers drive growth in solar energy market as second generation technology comes online

Solar energy boom centred on the mediterranean reached another milestone this week as Spanish renewable energy company Renovalia Energy unveiled what it claims is the world's first "second-generation" thermal solar plant.

The company flicked the switch on its pioneering 1MW solar-thermal plant in Casas de los Pinos, Spain, earlier this week touting a series of improvements that promise to reduce the environmental impact of lareg scale solar farms.

The plant uses external combustion motors made by US firm Infinia and as a result does not require any gas or water to generate energy. The developer said that the design meant that the plant will be able to operate in silence, while the fact that it does not require water to produce steam means that the company will have greater fleixibility over where it can locate future developments.

Renovalia said that the new plant will also boast conversion efficiencies of around 24 per cent, making it up to twice as efficient as solar photovoltaic plants and first generation cylindric-parabolic solar thermal designs.

In addition, it claimed that the technology takes just six months to build, compared to two years for some other systems.

The new technology is meant to act a template for future projects and Renovalia said it plans to start deploying a further eight sites across Spain totalling 71.39MW of capacity over the next three years.

In related news, US solar giant SunEdison continued its push into the European market last week announcing plans for 12 1MW solar energy plants in the south eastern province of Lecce, Apulia, Italy.


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