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Brussels, 30 March 2007

EU Energy Research: First commercial scale concentrating solar power plant in Europe inaugurated in Spain

The Southern Spanish city of Seville will be host to the first commercial concentrating solar power plant in Europe. The 11 MW plant inaugurated today and partly financed with European Union funds, has been designed to produce 23 GWh of electricity a year - enough to supply a population of 10.000. This production of solar electricity avoids the emission of about 16.000 tonnes of CO2 each year.[1]

"These new technologies give Europe a new option to combat climate change and increase energy security while strengthening the competitiveness of the European industrial sector and creating jobs and growth", said Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, on the occasion of the inauguration of the plant.

The so called PS10 project produces electricity via 624 movable mirrors (heliostats) of 120 m2 surface each that concentrates solar radiation to the top of a 115-m- high tower where the solar receiver and the steam turbine are located.

The PS10 solar plant is situated 25 km west of the city of Seville and is promoted by the company Abengoa. The investment costs amounted to €35 million, with a contribution of €5 million from the European Union's Fifth Framework Programme for research awarded for its highly innovative approach.

The project execution took 54 months, from 1 July 2001 to 31 December 2005. PS10 is the first of a set of solar electric power generation plants to be constructed in the same area which will total more than 300 MW by 2013.

Concentrating Solar Power

PS10 is an example of so-called Concentrating Solar Power plants which use solar radiation as a high-temperature energy source to produce electricity via concentrating heliostats in a thermodynamic cycle. The need for Concentrating Solar Power technology arises because solar radiation reaches the Earth’s surface with a density that is adequate for heating systems but not for an efficient thermodynamic cycle for electricity production.

The potential contribution of Concentrating Solar Power plants to a more sustainable energy system has still to be fully exploited. The EU has been supporting the Concentrating Solar Power (CPS) sector for more than ten years facilitating efforts to research, develop, validate, demonstrate and disseminate the performance of these technologies in both the public and private sector. Under the Fifth and Sixth Framework Programmes for Research, the EU has contributed with some €25 million to research projects working to develop CSP technologies.

This contribution has had a multiplying effect by leveraging a large amount of additional private investment worth several hundred million Euro, in a ratio of about €10 for each Euro invested by the European research programme.

Research, technological development and demonstration of a new generation of renewable energy technologies has an essential role to play in meeting growing energy demand and allowing Concentrating Solar Power technologies to become another EU success story.

More information:

The Commission is also publishing today a map of the solar power potential of Europe. The map is produced by the Photovoltaic Geographical Information System (PVGIS) of the Joint Research Centre which also includes an interactive service allowing users to calculate the solar power potential of any location in Europe. See IP/07/447.

[1] Considering the 2005 EU-25 energy mix and the corresponding electricity consumption (Ref European Commission DG TREN European Energy and Transports Trends to 2030)

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