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Solar Production Technology
Solar power from the desert
Photo gallery to the topic Solar power from the desert
Giant troughshow photos
The German glass specialist Flabeg is seeking to reduce electricity production costs by 25 percent with larger solar mirrors. The new technology is currently still in the test and measurement phase. (Photo: Flabeg)
Almost finishedshow photos
“Shams 1”, the very first solar thermal desert power plant, is to go into operation this autumn. (Photo: Masdar)
Ultimate engineeringshow photos
Exhaust steam in the solar thermal power plant flows from the steam turbine in the yellow hall through five enormous pipes to be cooled. The condensation is key to high efficiency. (Photo: Masdar)
Solar collectorshow photos
Parabolic troughs follow the path of the sun and concentrate the light on a receiver at the focal point. A special medium transfers heat to the power plant where it is used for conventional steam generation. (Photo: Flabeg)
Recent visitors to the United Arab Emirates may have noticed a lake of silver in the desolate landscape when flying out of the capital Abu Dhabi. This, however, is no water shimmering in the sun but thousands of parabolic mirrors. They collect the light for the world’s first desert solar thermal power plant, “Shams 1”, which is due to be connected to the grid this autumn. Concentrated Solar Power, CSP for short, is the specialists’ name for this technology with receivers which use the heat of the sun as a primary source of energy.
Shams 1 is seen as a milestone for the CSP industry. The International Energy Agency (IEA) is expecting CSP and photovoltaic plants to become the leading sources of energy by 2060, meeting more than half of the global demand for electricity. A cornerstone of this development is a series of solar power plants in the deserts of the Middle East and North Africa, but the shortage of water and complex ground requirements have until now prevented implementation of a major commercial CSP project in the region. This is set to change with Shams Power Company, a joint venture by Masdar Power, Abengoa Solar and Total which is now constructing a CSP plant in the heart of the Rub' al Khali desert for the equivalent of around 450 million euros.
“We are proving that solar thermal energy can be produced in this difficult terrain”, says Masdar Power’s chief engineer Olaf Goebel. With an output of around 100 megawatts (MW), Shams 1 is to supply electricity to around 20,000 households and cut carbon dioxide emissions by 175,000 tonnes a year. Both the engineering expertise and the key components for Shams come from Germany. The Nuremberg-based clean tech company Flabeg has supplied 214,000 parabolic mirrors with an area of nearly 600,000 square metres. The mirrors focus radiation on receiver pipes carrying a heat transfer fluid for steam generation.