The Incredible Solar Power Plant of Seville

Ian Somerhalder Foundation

Can you imagine living in a home where everything around you that requires energy has been fuelled by the sun? Now imagine that same solar technology in almost science fiction-like proportions, with shimmering waves of heat and light being converted to power thousands of homes. The Gemasolar Power Plant in Seville, Spain, is exactly that: a spectacular feat of engineering that harnesses the sun’s energy with science fiction-like ingenuity!

BBC News writer, David Shukman, wrote of his visit to the solar plant:

“There is a scene in one of the Austin Powers films where Dr. Evil unleashes a giant ‘tractor beam’ of energy at Earth in order to extract a massive payment. Well, the memory of it kept me chuckling as I toured the extraordinary scene of the new solar thermal power plant outside Seville in southern Spain.”

It is truly an impressive sight. The central tower stands 140 meter high and is the centerpiece of a vast 195-hectare field of 2,650 mirrored, solar panels, or heliostats, arranged in a circular pattern. With the regular sunshine of southern Spain, this facility is capable of operating through most nights and guarantees electrical productions for at least 270 days of the year. That’s about one and a half to three times more than other renewable energy sources! This means that it can supply clean and safe power to 25,000 homes and reduce CO2 emissions by more than 30,000 tons per year!

A joint venture between Abu Dhabi energy company Masdar and Spanish engineering firm SENER called Torresol Energy, the Gemasolar Power Plant is the first commercial-scale plant (CSP) in the world that utilizes central tower receiver and molten salt heat storage technology to create efficient, renewable energy production. It is also the first CSP with the capability of 15 hours of thermal storage.

So how does this technology work? Here are the eight basic steps of the Gemasolar Power Plant:

  1. As the sun shines down on the panels, the solar light is reflected by the heliostats towards the receiver at the very top of the tower. The sunlight reflected is so intense that they illuminate the water vapor and dust hanging in the air, creating an awesome sight that seems to belong in a film!
  2. Molten salts, heated at 290°C, are pumped from the cold molten salt tank to the receiver.
  3. Once inside the receiver, the molten salts are heated up to 565°C before being stored in the hot molten salt tank.
  4. The second tank for hot molten salt keeps the energy accumulated in this form and elevated temperature.
  5. Next, the hot molten salts are sent to the steam generation system where they transfer their heat to the water, reducing their temperature.
  6. The transferred heat then changes the water into high-pressure steam to move the turbine.
  7. The turbine powers the electric generator to produce energy.
  8. The electricity is then delivered to a transformer to be assimilated into the distribution grid and power homes!

To learn more about this fascinating plant visit Torresol Energy
You can see incredible images from the Mail Online article, Making light work of it: The world's first solar power station that generates electricity at NIGHT.

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