Seville’s Solar Thermal Power Plant

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Morning Edition, August 22, 2007 · A company in Spain has started producing household electricity from a solar power plant near Seville.

The technology is called concentrated solar thermal energy, which means it uses heat from the sun to run steam turbine generators. And running it doesn’t generate any greenhouse gases.

It’s Europe’s first commercial solar thermal power plant — and it’s called PS-10.

“PS-10 is an 11-megawatt electric power plant and it’s providing electricity for a population of about 6,000 houses,” says Valerio Fernandez, the engineer in charge of the plant built by the Spanish renewable energy company, Abengoa. The plant has been operational since March 2006 and is still being expanded.

The solar energy concentrated at the top could easily melt metal, Fernandez says. But water pumped through them stops them from melting. That water eventually turns to steam, powering the turbines at the base.

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Solúcar is the Spanish company responsible for the solar thermal tower. They also have an assortment of other solar technologies in their repertoire, including cylinder-parabolic collectors, parabolic dishes and photovoltaics.

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[NPR; BBC; Technology Review]

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