50,000 Wind Advocates Call for PTC Extension

The Production Tax Credit (PT) that provides tax incentives for the wind energy industry expired on December 31, 2013. Although there has been talk of tax reform, that would include a new formula for clean energy tax incentives, more than 50,000 citizens are urging Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) to making a renewing the PTC one of his biggest priorities. Sen. Wyden will be taking over as new chair of the Senate Finance Committee.

wind energy in U.SThe petition was started by Iowa State Senator and Climate Parents member Rob Hogg and is set to be delivered to Sen. Wyden’s offices in Washington, D.C. and Oregon this week.

Last month, Sen. Wyden stated he was “not going to sit idly by while plans for renewable energy development are sacrificed on the altar of inaction.”

Supporters of the PTC point to the lobbying efforts of industry figures, such as the Koch brothers, as the explanation behind its initial expiration. According to a Huffington Post article, the Koch brothers have “enlisted their extensive network of think tanks, advocacy groups, and friends on Capitol Hill to spearhead a campaign to pull the plug on the PTC.”

According to Sen. Hogg, there is growing momentum across the country for an extension of the wind tax credit. An example of this momentum is unanimous approval of a resolution calling on Congress to extend the PTC by a bipartisan coalition of Iowa state senators. “We must support wind power and renewable energy,” said Hogg. “Our children and our grandchildren are counting on Congress to act.”

Hogg explains that despite oppositional efforts, the PTC still enables wind energy to compete with highly subsidized fossil fuel industries, attracts investors for new wind projects, fosters innovation and employs tens of thousands of Americans in the clean energy economy. “Wind power currently provides 25% of Iowa’s electricity generation and has increased nationally by 30% per year over the past five years. The wind power tax credit made this possible,” said Hogg.

Climate Parents Director and Co-Founder Lisa Hoyos said that the decision on whether to extend the wind PTC is a crucial test for Congress that will our children will grow up in. “We have the technology to shift to 100% clean energy. What we’re lacking is the political commitment from Congress to support the investments in renewable energy that will protect our kids’ from the climate impacts already harming communities. Senator Wyden’s leadership on this issue is critical right now.”

“When it comes down to it, Congress has a choice. Are they with the Koch brothers, or with our kids?” said Hoyos. “People across the country have joined this call to action, because we know future generations need us to rapidly deploy kid-safe, climate-safe energy, and stop investing in the dirty energy fueling climate change.”

DOE Awards $3M for Geothermal Development

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 12.28.17 PMThe U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced $3 million to spur geothermal energy development using play fairway analysis. This technique identifies prospective geothermal resources in areas with no obvious surface expression by mapping the most favorable intersections of heat, permeability, and fluid. The technique is commonly used in oil and gas exploration but has of yet, has not been widely used in the geothermal industry. By improving success rates for exploration drilling, this data-mapping tool could help attract investment in geothermal energy projects and significantly lower the costs of geothermal energy.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that 30 gigawatts of undiscovered hydrothermal energy potential exist untapped beneath the Earth’s surface – nearly 10 times the current installed capacity of geothermal energy in the United States. One of the keys to tapping this clean resource is reducing the cost and risk of locating it. Play fairway analysis projects could unlock significant geothermal energy resources and accelerate industry-wide adoption of this tool, by quantifying and reducing the risk of exploratory drilling,

The DOE will support one-year collaborative research and development projects, especially in new, unexplored areas, that adapt play fairway analysis to geothermal exploration. These projects selected will focus on using existing geologic and geophysical data to develop maps that identify areas with a higher probability of containing a geothermal resource. The research also seeks to develop a methodology for exploration of geothermal resources in a particular region, or play.

Advancing Solar Energy in Saudi Arabia

An agreement to jointly fund a feasibility study for the establishment of a vertically integrated solar PV (photovoltaic) manufacturing complex at Wa’ad Al Shammal in Saudi Arabia has been signed. SunEdison, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of the Government of Saudi Arabia and the Saudi Arabian Investment Company hope to move forward with a project to produce polysilicon through modules. The feasbility study is the next step in the process following a preliminary study between the National Industrial Clusters Development Program (NICDP) and SunEdison in 2013.

“We anticipate substantial growth of solar PV within the Kingdom and the region. This project will support that growth, and the growth aspirations of SunEdison and our Saudi solar in saudi arabia photo credit Martin Prochnikpartners,” said Ahmad Chatila, CEO of SunEdison. “The combination of SunEdison technology, and the Kingdom’s world-class manufacturing and energy sector expertise will enable us to capitalize on substantial growth in the Kingdom and the region, and maximize the value of solar PV projects supported by this venture.”

If developed, the complex would utilize both SunEdison’s proprietary high pressure silane fluidized bed reactor (HP-FBR) polysilicon, and continuous Czochralski (CCz) crystal ingot technology and equipment, as well as include solar wafer, cell and module manufacturing, employ attractive debt financing for the approximately $6.4B project, and would begin production in 2017, ramping to 3 GW (gigawatts) annually.

A significant percentage of polysilicon and ingot production would support the 3 GW planned module output. Should the project go forward, the Ministry of Petroleum and Minerals said it will provide the required quantities of natural gas, and the Saudi Electrical Company (SEC) committed to providing the needed power requirements for the project.

“This project will be capable of building a complete industrial eco-system that is sustainable and able to compete on a global level by utilizing pioneering technology developed by SunEdison to produce high purity polysilicon, and high-efficiency, low-cost mono-crystalline ingots, in addition to benefiting from economies of scale given the size and vertically integrated nature of the complex,” said Eng. Azzam Shalabi, President of NICDP.

Chatila added, “We will bring our downstream solar PV development expertise to the region, and will partner with the Kingdom to build a large and dynamic solar energy industry. This agreement represents our ongoing strategy to accelerate our growth, maximize the value of our PV projects, and strengthen our balance sheet to enable both. We are very proud to take this next step with our Saudi partners as the Kingdom becomes a world leader in solar energy.”

Iowa Wind Energy Conference Around the Corner

The 7th Annual Iowa Wind Power Conference is just around the corner taking place at the FFA Enrichment Center on the Campus of Des Moines Area Community College in Ankeny, Iowa, March 11-12, 2014. Sponsored by the Iowa Wind Energy Association (IWEA), there is a strong line-up of speakers, informative sessions, exhibitors and new research displays.

IWEA logoThe general sessions planned feature nationally recognized leaders in the wind energy industry, elected leaders, policy development specialists and utility leaders in the wind energy industry. A special feature of this year’s conference will be the first ever Education/Job Fair on March 11, 2014 which will provide wind energy companies an opportunity to meet with wind energy training programs and job seekers. There will also be an opportunity for K-12 students and educators to learn more about job opportunities in wind energy.

There will be 30 exhibitors showcasing their products and services during the conference including dozens of university wind energy research project displays will be available during the conference. These project displays will be judged by a panel of experts and cash awards will be given to the top projects in several categories.

Registration is now open.

Smithfield’s Renewable Energy Commitment Tangible

Smithfield Foods commitment to renewable energy is showing tangible results according to the company. During the past several years, the company has been monitoring scientific advancements that have removed barriers to efficiently and sustainably create renewable energy from agricultural waste, in particular the use of anaerobic digestion processes that covert decomposing organic matter, such as hog manure, into renewable energy.

“The bottom line is that our company’s commitment to creating renewable energy is about to produce some very tangible and beneficial results,” said C. Larry Pope, president and chief executive officer of Smithfield Foods.

cute pigsPope noted that two Smithfield Foods strategic partnerships at Murphy-Brown LLC facilities in northern Missouri and Milford, Utah, involving anaerobic digestion technology are seeing results and the projects will soon deliver electricity to neighboring communities.

“Our Missouri and Utah projects are a classic win-win. We will considerably reduce the greenhouse effects on the Earth’s atmosphere by recycling agricultural waste, help to protect our natural resources and provide a more environmentally friendly energy source,” Pope said.

In northern Missouri, Murphy-Brown of Missouri, LLC (MBM) and Roeslein Alternative Energy, LLC, have announced joint plans to develop a $100 million renewable biogas project. Biogas produces energy when organic matter decomposes without oxygen present. The biogas will be harvested from MGM finishing farms in northern Missouri and construction is set to begin this spring.

In addition, the company’s project Milford, Utah, is ramping up. Murphy-Brown’s
Circle 4 Farms will be producing electricity via two methane digesters. In this project, manure will be converted to energy and as a result, the manure, or solid waste, will no longer be stored in lagoons.

Pope added, “Our manure-to-energy projects are just another step in our sustainability
journey.”

Ormat Completes Kenyan Oklaria III Geothermal Plant

Ormat Technologies has successfully completed construction and reached commercial operation of Plant 3 in the Olkaria III geothermal power plant complex located in Naivasha, Kenya. With Plant 3 online, the complex’s total generation capacity has increased to 110 MW. The power generated by the Olkaria III is sold under a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Kenya Power and Lighting Company Limited (KPLC).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Olkaria III complex was financed with a $310 million debt facility provided by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). In November 2013, Ormat drew down the remaining $45 million available under the project finance debt facility for the completion of Plant 3.

“Olkaria III is a prime example of our multi-stage approach to project development generating higher investment returns and reducing risk,” said Dita Bronicki, chief executive officer of Ormat. “In less than one year, we’ve completed construction of two additional plants and, over the course of five years, more than doubled the facility’s generating capacity.”

Bronicki added, “Due to our operational expertise and innovative technology, we’ve accomplished that growth ahead of schedule resulting in a significant increase in revenues. As we complete this project, we remain committed to support the growing power needs of Kenya with this indigenous, reliable and environmentally friendly source of electricity. Kenya is an important market for our future growth due to its high geothermal potential and we are focusing our efforts on increasing our operation in Kenya.”

Princeton Power, EnStorage Awarded BIRD Grant

Princeton Power Systems and EnStorage have been awarded a $950,000 grant from the Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD). The grant will support the commercialization and deployment of an energy storage system based on EnStorage’s proprietary hydrogen bromide (HBr) flow battery and Princeton Power Systems’ inverters and site controller. The first system will be deployed to support a photovoltaic (PV) installation and would be able to support the grid for at least six hours per day for a minBIRD winner logosimum of 20 years.

“The BIRD Foundation grant will enable our companies to develop a comprehensive solution for PV installations and various other applications,” said Marshall Cohen, Chairman of Princeton Power Systems. “We aim to develop inverters as well as software for EnStorage’s HBr technology to add to our long-term energy-storage offering.”

The commercial system will be a 150kW/900kWH containerized system, to be based on EnStorage’s grid connected 50kW/100kWH technology demonstrator.

“Our partnership with Princeton Power Systems will allow us to expedite the commercialization of our technology,” said Arnon Blum, CEO of EnStorage. “The ability to deploy our battery at a customer site and rely on Princeton Power Systems’ experience in optimizing the interaction between the grid and our battery’s performance will serve as a significant step for future deployments.”

Solar Lights Up Students in Zambia

SolarAid and Yingli Green Energy have “lit up” Mayukwayukwa High School in Kaoma, Zambia by installing a solar PV system on the newly built UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) School. The project was successfully completed with partner contributions including Atama Solar Energy, Kingspan Energy and Solar Roof Systems. YINGLI GREEN ENERGY HOLDING COMPANY LIMITED ZAMBIA STUDENTSThe High School is located in the Mayukwayukwa Settlement, one of Africa’s oldest refugee camps that was established in 1966 following the break-out of Angola’s 27-year civil war, 300 km to the west of the capital city, Lusaka. About 15,500 refugees reside in the Mayukwayukwa camp at the moment and many of them know no other home, having been born in the camp.

UNHCR representative to Zambia, Laura Lo Castro, said in a statement that her organisation appreciated the solar lighting system and that it would help them meet the lighting needs at Mayukwayukwa High School. “At UNHCR, we appreciate the donation made by Yingli Green Energy and their partners, through SolarAid. We are aware that this school will greatly benefit the refugees and the host community, thereby enhancing co-existence,” said Lo Castro.

The construction of the high school started in September 2008 as UNHCR intends to provide education for refugee students who struggle to access day school because of the limited school places in the area. Thanks to the solar system installed, Mayukwayukwa High School is now able to light one of the school’s large classrooms, the Headmaster’s office and a dormitory, helping scholars with studying and providing security lighting at the same time. The solar system can also charge cellphones.

“The solar system, donated by Yingli Solar and their partners through SolarAid, will meet the lighting needs at the school and will provide safe and clean electricity, bringing huge benefits to the 600 students between 14 and 19 years old who are in the school, as well as staff and the host community around. Yingli Solar together with their partners support SolarAid to fund specific schools in Africa to provide lighting and get study lights into the hands of teachers and pupils through school campaigns. The solar lighting lengthens learning hours, improves education quality and reduces dependence on expensive and toxic kerosene lamps,” said Richard Turner, Chief Fundraiser at SolarAid.

Liansheng Miao, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Yingli Green Energy, added, “We are pleased to know that hundreds of students and teachers can now use the power of the sun to extend the time for study and other community activities. We are happy to support SolarAid’s ‘Lighter Learning’ program together with our partners. Bringing clean safe light to communities in Africa helps create brighter and better futures for students and families currently living without electricity.”

Only 9 percent of rural sub-Saharan residents in Africa have access to electricity and families can spend up to 25 percent of their income on toxic kerosene for lighting.

Despite Record Offshore Wind Projects, Industry Slows

Despite record offshore wind energy projects coming online in 2013, a recent report shows that new projects have slowed. Last year, 418 offshore turbines came online in Europe making a record 1,567 Megawatts (MW) of new capacity. This is one-third more than the capacity installed in 2012.

This makes a new total of 6,562 MW of offshore wind power – enough to provide 0.7 percent of the EU’s electricity.

European Offshore Wind in 2013However, the report finds that when taking a closer look at what happened, there was a slow-down during the year: two-thirds of the new capacity came online in the first six months. With 11 projects now under construction, down from 14 this time last year, market and regulatory stability is critical to bringing forward the 22,000 MW of consented projects across Europe.

“The unclear political support for offshore wind energy – especially in key offshore wind markets like the UK and Germany – has led to delays to planned projects and fewer new projects being launched,” said Justin Wilkes, Deputy CEO at the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). “This means installations are likely to plateau until 2015, followed by a decline as from 2016.”

Wilkes added, “An ambitious decision on a 2030 renewable energy target by the Heads of State in March would be the right signal to send to the offshore wind sector that Europe will develop its massive offshore wind potential for green growth, jobs, industrialisation, technological leadership and CO2 reductions.”

In 2013 Siemens was the leading turbine supplier (69%), DONG Energy the leading developer (48%), and Bladt the leading substructure supplier (37%), as they were in 2012.

First Magma-Enhanced Geothermal System Created

During the Icelandic Deep Drilling (IDDP) project that began in 2009, a borehole drilled at Krafla in northeast Iceland unexpectedly hit magma at 2100 meters with a temperature of 900-1000 Celsius. This borehole was the first of several wells being drilled in search of high-temperature geothermal resources.

IDDP-1 in IcelandFast forward four years later and the efforts of the IDDP project were reported in the January 2014 issue of the International journal of Geothermics. One paper focusing on this project was co-authored by Wilfred Elders, a professor emeritus of geology at the University of California, Riverside, along with several of his Icelandic colleagues.

“Drilling into magma is a very rare occurrence anywhere in the world and this is only the second known instance, the first one, in 2007, being in Hawaii,” Elders explained. “The IDDP, in cooperation with Iceland’s National Power Company, the operator of the Krafla geothermal power plant, decided to investigate the hole further and bear part of the substantial costs involved.”

Once the magma was hit, the team inserted a steel casing in the bottom section closest to the magma and cemented it into the well. The hole was then allowed to heat slowly and eventually allowed to flow superheated steam for the next two years, until July 2012, when it was shut down in order to replace some of the surface equipment.

“In the future, the success of this drilling and research project could lead to a revolution in the energy efficiency of high-temperature geothermal areas worldwide,” Elders said. Continue reading

Study Finds U.S. Solar Jobs Grew 20% in 2013

The Solar Foundation (TSF) has released its fourth annual National Solar Jobs Census, which found that the U.S. solar industry employed 142,698 Americans in 2013. This figure includes the addition of 23,682 solar jobs over the previous year, representing a 19.9 percent growth in employment since September 2012. Solar employment grew 10 times faster than the national average employment growth rate of 1.9 percent in the same period.

TSF National Solar Jobs Census Graphic“The solar industry’s job-creating power is clear,” said Andrea Luecke, Executive Director and President of TSF. “The industry has grown an astounding 53 percent in the last four years alone, adding nearly 50,000 jobs. Our Census findings show that for the fourth year running, solar jobs remain well-paid and attract highly-skilled workers. That growth is putting people back to work and helping local economies.”

The good news was mentioned by President Obama in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 and he has been vocal in his support of clean energy in including solar.

Solar employers are also optimistic about 2014, expecting to add another 22,000 jobs over the coming year. By comparison, over the same time period, the fossil fuel electric generation sector shrank by more than 8,500 jobs (a decline of 8.7 percent) and jobs in coal mining grew by just 0.25 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Employment Survey.

“This is an exciting time for the solar industry in the United States, made even more clear by the latest industry job figures,” commented U.S. Energy Secretary Ernst Moniz.  “According to the Solar Foundation, today there are more than 140,000 Americans employed up and down the U.S. solar supply chain and across every state. Since 2010, the solar industry has created nearly 50,000 new American jobs and employment has grown nearly 20 percent in the last year alone.”

“President Obama has set an ambitious goal to double electricity generation from renewable sources once again by 2020, and a vibrant U.S. workforce is vital to achieving this, Moniz added. The DOE has a solar program known as the SunShot Initiative to help support the future of the solar industry. “To support a growing workforce and a new generation of clean energy leaders, the Energy Department is providing training and education opportunities for engineers, utility workers and students, as well as supporting projects across the country to ensure America’s continued leadership in clean energy innovation.”

MIT Researchers Enhancing Solar Power

MIT researchers have developed a new approach to harvesting solar energy. The technique uses sunlight to heat high-temperature materials whose infrared radiation would be collected by a conventional photovoltaic cell. Researchers say this both improves efficiency as well as could make it easier to store the energy for later use. By adding the extra step, it makes it possible to take advantage of wavelengths of light that typically go to waste.

The process is described in a paper published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology written by graduate student Andrej Lenert, associate professor of mechanical engineering Evelyn Wang, physics professor Marin Soljačić, principal research scientist Ivan Celanović, and three others.MIT nanophotonic solar thermophotovoltaic device

A conventional silicon-based solar cell “doesn’t take advantage of all the photons,” Wang explains. That’s because converting the energy of a photon into electricity requires that the photon’s energy level match that of a characteristic of the photovoltaic (PV) material called a bandgap. Silicon’s bandgap responds to many wavelengths of light, but misses many others.

To address that limitation, the team inserted a two-layer absorber-emitter device — made of novel materials including carbon nanotubes and photonic crystals — between the sunlight and the PV cell. This intermediate material collects energy from a broad spectrum of sunlight, heating up in the process. When it heats up, as with a piece of iron that glows red hot, it emits light of a particular wavelength, which in this case is tuned to match the bandgap of the PV cell mounted nearby.

This basic concept has been explored for several years but Wang says that with TPV systems, “the efficiency would be significantly higher — it could ideally be over 80 percent.”

Lenert, Wang, and their team have already produced an initial test device with a measured efficiency of 3.2 percent, and they say with further work they expect to be able to reach 20 percent efficiency — enough, they say, for a commercially viable product.

In their experiments, the researchers used simulated sunlight, and found that its peak efficiency came when its intensity was equivalent to a focusing system that concentrates sunlight by a factor of 750. This light heated the absorber-emitter to a temperature of 962 degrees Celsius. The MIT researchers say that after further optimization, it should be possible to get the same kind of enhancement at even lower sunlight concentrations, making the systems easier to operate.

Such a system, the team says, combines the advantages of solar photovoltaic systems, which turn sunlight directly into electricity, and solar thermal systems, which can have an advantage for delayed use because heat can be more easily stored than electricity. The new solar thermophotovoltaic systems, they say, could provide efficiency because of their broadband absorption of sunlight; scalability and compactness, because they are based on existing chip-manufacturing technology; and ease of energy storage, because of their reliance on heat.

Cape Wind Wins Again

Cape Wind has again defeated the efforts of its opponents to block the country’s first offshore wind farm. In a historic decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the FAA’s approval of the Cape Wind project, rejecting every argument that had been advanced by the project’s opponents.

home_page_image_Eco_Tour(1)“The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, the Town of Barnstable and their financial backer-coal billionaire Bill Koch– have failed yet again in their continuing campaign to use the courts to delay the financing of Cape Wind,” said Cape Wind Communications Director Mark Rodgers. “The court’s definitive decision is an important legal victory that brings America that much closer to launching its offshore wind industry, a keystone in America’s renewable energy future.”

This decision takes on even greater importance because this was the same court that had previously provided project opponents their sole and temporary relief, opponents have lost all 12 legal decisions in other courts.

On October 28, 2011 this Court had remanded the FAA’s third Determination of No Hazard back to the FAA to better explain the rationale for its decision. On February 9, 2012, the FAA issued a Public Notice of its reinstated project review, indicating its conclusion that “None of the turbines would have an adverse effect on the use of air navigation facilities or navigable airspace.”

On August 15, 2012 the FAA issued its 4th DNH which project opponents challenged, the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound pronounced confidence their challenge would be successful. However, this is the case decided again in favor of the FAA and Cape Wind.

Sugar, Bringing in the New Age of Batteries?

Cutting back on your sugar intake? Than consider using it to create a battery. Not really but doesn’t it sound cool? A Virgina Tech research team did just this and has developed a battery that runs on sugar. The research team believes it has an energy density unmatched by any on the market and could lead to the replacement of conventional batteries with ones that are cheaper, refillable and biodegradable.

The findings from Y.H. Percival Zhang, an associate professor of biological systems engineering in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Engineering, were published yesterday in the journal Nature Communications.

sugar batteryWhile other sugar batteries have been developed, Zhang said his has an energy density an order of magnitude higher than others, allowing it to run longer before needing to be refueled. In as soon as three years, his new battery could be running a myriad of electronic gadgets.

“Sugar is a perfect energy storage compound in nature,” Zhang said. “So it’s only logical that we try to harness this natural power in an environmentally friendly way to produce a battery.”

This is one of Zhang’s recent successes that utilize a series of enzymes mixed together in combinations not found in nature. He has published articles on creating edible starch from non-food plants and developed a new way to extract hydrogen in an economical and environmentally friendly way that can be used to power vehicles.

In this newest development, Zhang and his colleagues constructed a non-natural synthetic enzymatic pathway that strip all charge potentials from the sugar to generate electricity in an enzymatic fuel cell. Then, low-cost biocatalyst enzymes are used as catalyst instead of costly platinum, which is typically used in conventional batteries.

Like all fuel cells, the sugar battery combines fuel — in this case, maltodextrin, a polysaccharide made from partial hydrolysis of starch — with air to generate electricity and water as the main byproducts.

Zang explained, “We are releasing all electron charges stored in the sugar solution slowly step-by-step by using an enzyme cascade.”

Different from hydrogen fuel cells and direct methanol fuel cells, the fuel sugar solution is neither explosive nor flammable and has a higher energy storage density. The enzymes and fuels used to build the device are also biodegradable.

Largest Solar-Thermal Plant in Chile Announced

Abengoa has been selected by the Ministry of Energy of the Chilean Government and Corfo (Corporacion de Fomento de la Produccion) to develop a 110 MW solar plant using tower technology with 17.5 hours of thermal energy storage using molten salts. The project will be located in the Atacama Desert, the region, believed to have the highest solar radiation concentrations in the world. It will be the first solar-thermal plant for direct electricity production in South America.

Abengoa solar thermal plantAbengoa’s project won the international tender launched by the Chilean Ministry of Energy and Corfo to construct the first Concentrated Solar Power plant in Latin America. As part of this tender, the project will receive direct subsidies from the Chilean Government and the European Union, as well as financing from the Inter-American Development Bank, KFW Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau, the Clean Technology Fund and Canadian Fund.

Solar-thermal tower technology uses a series of mirrors (heliostats) that track the sun on two axes, concentrating the solar radiation on a receiver on the upper part of the tower where the heat is transferred to the molten salts. The salts then transfer their heat in a heat exchanger to a water current to generate superheated and reheated steam, which feeds a turbine capable of generating around 110 MW of power.

The solar plant will also have a pioneering thermal storage system with 17.5 hours of storage that has been designed and developed by Abengoa. The company explains this approach makes the technology highly manageable, enabling it to supply electricity in a stable way, 24 hours a day, responding to all periods of electricity demand.

Abengoa’s new project will be located in the commune of Maria Elena in the Antofagasta region, northern Chile. The project forms part of Chile’s national renewable energy program, intended to provide Chile with a cleaner energy future, while also promoting its economic development and reducing its dependency on coal and natural gas. Chile has set a target to produce 20% of its electricity from clean energy sources by 2025.

Construction of the project is due to start in the second half of 2014.