A unique thermosolar power station in southern Spain can shrug off cloudy days: Energy stored when the sun shines lets it produce electricity even during the night.
The Gemasolar station, up and running since last May, stands out in the plains of Andalusia.
From the road between Seville and Cordoba, one can see its central tower lit up like a beacon by 2,600 solar mirrors, each 120m2, that surround it in an immense 195-hectare circle.
“It is the first station in the world that works 24 hours a day, a solar power station that works day and night,” said Santago Arias, technical director of Torresol Energy, which runs the station.
The mechanism is “very easy to explain,” he said.
The panels reflect the suns rays onto the tower, transmitting energy at an intensity 1,000 times higher than that of the sun’s rays reaching the earth.
Energy is stored in a vat filled with molten salts at a temperature of more than 500°C. Those salts are used to produce steam to turn the turbines and produce electricity.
It is the station’s capacity to store energy that makes Gemasolar so different because it allows the plant to transmit power during the night, relying on energy it has accumulated during the day.
“I use that energy as I see fit, and not as the sun dictates,” Arias explained.
As a result, the plant produces 60 percent more energy than a station without storage capacity because it can work 6,400 hours a year compared with between 1,200 and 2,000 hours for other solar power stations, he said.
“The amount of energy we produce a year is equal to the consumption of 30,000 Spanish households,” Arias said, an annual saving of 30,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
Helped by generous state aid, renewable energies have enjoyed a boom in Spain, the world No. 2 in solar energy and the biggest wind power producer in Europe, ahead of Germany.
For the Gemasolar product, foreign investors helped too: Torresol Energy is a joint venture between the Spanish engineering group Sener, which holds 60 percent, and Abu Dhabi-financed renewable energy firm Masdar.
“This type of station is expensive, not because of the raw material we use, which is free solar energy, but because of the enormous investment these plants require,” Arias said.
The investment cost exceeded 200 million euros (US$260 million), but “the day when the business has repaid that money to the banks [in 18 years, he estimates], this station will become a 1,000-euro note printing machine,” he said, recalling that oil prices have soared from US$28 a barrel in 2003 to nearly US$130.
For now, the economic crisis has nevertheless cast a shadow over this kind of project: Spain is battling to slash its deficit as it slides into recession and has suspended aid to new renewable energy projects.
Andalusia, hard hit by the economic crisis with the country’s highest unemployment rate at 31.23 percent, holds regional elections on March 25.
“We have three projects ready, but stalled” because of the aid suspension, Arias said, admitting that in a difficult global economy the group has not managed to sell the Gemasolar techology abroad despite huge interest outside Spain.
Softbank Group Corp plans to keep a stake in the chip designer Arm Ltd, even if it sells a partial interest to Nvidia Corp, the Nikkei reported. The companies are negotiating terms, the newspaper reported, citing sources. Softbank might take a stake in Nvidia after it buys Arm, the report said. Nvidia and Arm might also merge through a share swap, and Softbank would become a major shareholder in the combined company, it said. The two parties aim to reach a deal in the next few weeks, the sources said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. Nvidia is the
END TO SPECULATION: The hotel’s management contract has been extended, despite reports that it wanted to end its alliance with Hyatt Hotels over a deal with Riant Capital Singapore-based Hong Leong Hotel Development Ltd (豐隆大飯店股份) yesterday said it has extended a management contract to ensure the continued presence of the Grand Hyatt brand in Taipei, ending rumors that the two sides were parting ways. “We are pleased Hyatt is able to come to terms on the extension of the management contract of Grand Hyatt Taipei,” said Kwek Leng Beng (郭令明), executive chairman of City Developments Ltd (城市發展) and Millennium & Copthorne Hotels Ltd (千禧國敦酒店). Hong Leong Hotel Development is a subsidiary of Millennium, and both fall under the Hong Leong Group (豐隆集團). The Grand Hyatt Taipei (台北君悅大飯店), owned and built by
MOVING FROM CHINA? The article did not name the company, but Foxconn, Wistron and Pegatron were among firms chosen for a production-linked incentive plan in India An Apple Inc vendor is looking at shifting six production lines to India from China, which could result in US$5 billion of iPhone exports from the South Asian nation, the Times of India reported, citing people familiar with the matter who it did not identify. The establishment of the facility would create about 55,000 jobs over about a year, the newspaper reported, not naming the Apple vendor. It would also cater to the domestic market and expand operations to include tablets and laptops, the newspaper reported. Samsung Electronics Co and Apple’s assembly partners are among 22 companies that have pledged 110 billion
’WHITE BOX’: The open platform would give local firms access to Cisco’s cloud-based mobile network to develop 5G telecom equipment and tap into the global market The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) yesterday introduced a new 5G “open lab” in collaboration with US-based information technology and networking giant Cisco Systems Inc to address the rapidly growing “white box” 5G networking equipment market. The open lab will be a platform where Taiwanese manufacturers can access Cisco’s cloud-based mobile network to develop their own 5G telecom equipment, such as small-cell base stations, network switches, modems and Internet of things (IoT) devices, a ministry statement said. The open platform would allow Taiwanese manufacturers to tap into the lucrative 5G telecom equipment market, which was previously monopolized by Nokia Oyj, Ericsson AB