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thermal storage

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Lointek’s technology has been selected for the turnkey supply of the integrated steam generation system and the oil-salt thermal storage system for DEWA IV, the world’s biggest thermosolar power plant that will start operating in 2022, in Dubai (United Arab Emirates).

The firm is in charge of the engineering, manufacture, installation and launch of the power island. This will take place in three phases: the first of 18 months, and the following two in consecutive 8-month periods. These systems are considered to be critical elements in the plant’s development and of high thermomechanical complexity in their design and implementation.

Record figures

The DEWA IV project entails an investment of $4 b and breaks a number of records. In terms of its capacity, it has a total power of 950 MW, of which 600 are from parabolic trough generation (three times the maximum capacity of existing facilities), 250 MW from photovoltaic generation and 100 MW from the central tower system. Another remarkable feature of the project is that it produces the cheapest known kWh, at a cost of 7.2 $ cents.

With regard to its dimensions, the solar park has a surface area of 3,750 hectares, in addition, the central tower is the tallest of all the solar plants built up to now, reaching a height of 260 metres.

DEWA IV (Dubai Electricity and Water Authority) is situated 50 km outside Dubai and forms part of the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, which sets a target for renewable energy of 7% of total energy production by 2020, 30% by 2030 and 75% by the middle of the century.

Global leadership

The award of this contract is a reinforcement of the company’s position of global leadership, with its market share of more than 70% of thermosolar power plants across the world, and a reaffirmation of its competitiveness. In this regard, LOINTEK particularly appreciates the acceptance of its proposed technology in the face of international competition and the positive assessment of its reliability.

The company has delivered around 1,000 heat exchangers in a decade, a figure ten times greater than the second company in the sector’s ranking. LOINTEK has supplied power systems to 55 thermosolar plants in ten countries across America, Europe, Africa and Asia, with a total renewable thermosolar electrical power generation capacity of 3,500 MW.

In 2018, LOINTEK also participated in thermosolar plants in South Africa and Morocco that were already fully operational and, currently, it is working on the testing phase of a plant in Israel and the installation of another in Kuwait.

Source: Lointek

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The engineering and technology group SENER and ACCIONA Industrial have achieved the connection of the 100 Mw Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant to 132kV ESKOM Distribution line on 23 February 2018. Main and auxiliary transformers have been energized which represents a relevant milestone for power plant commissioning activities.

The Kathu Solar Park CSP Plant, which will supply clean energy to 179,000 homes (estimation of the South African Department of Energy DOE), is equipped with a molten salt storage system that allows 4.5 hours of thermal energy storage to extend the operational capacity of the plant after sunset and uses SENERtrough®-2 collectors, a parabolic trough technology, specifically designed and patented by SENER, aimed at improving efficiency of the plant.

Siyabonga Mbanjwa, SENER Regional Managing Director in Southern Africa, commented: “With this key milestone for the Kathu project, we reassure our commitment to tackling the South Africa’s need for a reliable and sustained energy supply and the improvement of the grid stability, and therefore, we have focused on deploying our patented Concentrated Solar Power to support clean energy generation.”

Roberto Felipe, Chief Operating Officer of ACCIONA Industrial, said: “This project milestone has only been achieved in time and with high quality standards thanks to the Joint Venture’s ability to develop this project in the South African market. We have focused on working with local entities and communities in the region, which is why we are executing Concentrated Solar Power Kathu with excellence.”

Kathu Solar Park is one of the awarded projects in the third round of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program (REIPPPP) led by the South African Department of Energy (DOE).

The joint venture between SENER and ACCIONA Industrial was appointed by the ENGIE led consortium to provide engineering, procurement and construction services for the project. Construction started on site in May 2016 and is due for completion in late 2018. Approximately 1,200 jobs are being created during the construction phase. It is estimated that the Kathu Solar Park will save six million tonnes of CO2 over 20 years and will further promote local economic development through the KSP trust and the Kelebogile Trust, which has invested significantly in the local community thus far thereby making a meaningful contribution to the community of the John Taolo Gaetsewe District Municipality situated in the Northern Cape.

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The US Department of Energy (DOE) launched the SunShot Initiative in 2011 with the goal of making solar electricity cost-competitive with power from conventional generation technologies by 2020. The initiative includes cost and performance targets for solar PV and CSP. Unlike PV, CSP technology captures and stores the sun’s energy in the form of heat, using materials that are low cost and materially stable for decades. This allows CSP with thermal energy storage (TES) to deliver renewable energy while providing important capacity, reliability and stability attributes to the grid, thereby enabling increased penetration of variable renewable electricity technologies. The technical report “Concentrating Solar Power Gen3 Demonstration Roadmap” released in January 2017 by NREL, will be used by the DOE to prioritise R&D activities leading to one or more technology pathways to be successfully demonstrated at a scale appropriate for the future commercialisation of the technology.

Today’s most advanced CSP systems are towers integrated with 2-tank, molten-salt TES, delivering thermal energy at 565°C for integration with conventional steam-Rankine power cycles. These power towers trace their lineage to the 10 MWe pilot demonstration of Solar Two in the 1990s. This design
has lowered the cost of CSP electricity by approximately 50% compared to parabolic trough systems; however, the decrease in cost of CSP technologies has not kept pace with the falling cost of PV systems.


Since the 2011 introduction of SunShot, the DOE’s CSP Subprogram has funded research in solar collector field, receiver, TES and power cycle sub-systems to improve the performance and lower the cost of CSP systems. In August 2016, the DOE hosted a workshop of CSP stakeholders that defined three potential pathways for next generation CSP (CSP Gen3) based on the form of the thermal carrier in the receiver: molten salt, particle or gaseous. Prior analysis by the DOE had selected the supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) Brayton cycle as the best-fit power cycle for increasing CSP system thermo-electric conversion efficiency. The research is designed to enable a CSP system that offers the potential to achieve the overall CSP SunShot goals. However, no one approach exists without at least one significant technical, economic or reliability risk (Figure 1). Read more…

Article published in: FuturENERGY March 2017

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SolarReserve managed to bid US$63.75 MWh for a CSP tower project with thermal storage and here are the answers. Of course they remembered to budget for the construction of the tower when they made their calculations and there was no silver bullet to get them there instantly. Instead, their success was down to their relentless commitment to improving efficiencies and making small cost savings across the whole project, combined with a fertile ground for CSP in Chile. As they say, every little helps!

The most important detail about the SolarReserve bid is the structure of the projects associated with it: two different projects were proposed, both with the same US$63/MWh bid:

• Copiapó is a 2 tower, 260 MW plant in baseload configuration with next generation molten salt tower technology and 14h of storage. Although there is little data on what exactly is the improvement of the technology, SolarReserve has indicated that it involves a larger and more efficient receiver combined with a larger heliostat field to take advantage of the highest solar resource on the planet, with a Direct Normal Irradiation (DNI) of more than 3,400 kwh/m2/year. SolarReserve reckons Copiapó will produce over 1,800 GWh per year.

• Likana is a 3 tower, 390 MW plant in baseload configuration with next generation molten salt tower technology, also featuring 14h of storage. This project enjoys even higher DNI, at more than 3,500 kWh/m2/year. This project should produce over 2,700 GWh per year.Read more…

Belén Gallego
Head of ATA Insights and CSO of ATA Renewables

Article published in: FuturENERGY October 2016

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Masdar Institute researchers have successfully demonstrated that desert sand from the UAE could be used in concentrated solar power (CSP) facilities to store thermal energy up to 1,000°C. The research project called Sandstock has been seeking to develop a sustainable and low-cost gravity-fed solar receiver and storage system, using sand particles as the heat collector, heat transfer and thermal energy storage media.

Desert sand from the UAE can now be considered a possible thermal energy storage (TES) material. Its thermal stability, specific heat capacity, and tendency to agglomerate have been studied at high temperatures.

A research paper on the findings developed under the guidance of Dr. Nicolas Calvet, Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, was presented by PhD student Miguel Diago at the 21st Solar Power and Chemical Energy Systems (SolarPACES 2015) Conference in South Africa. The paper was co-authored by alumni Alberto Crespo Iniesta, Dr. Thomas Delclos, Dr. Tariq Shamim, Professor of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Masdar Institute, and Dr. Audrey Soum-Glaude (French National Center for Scientific Research PROMES CNRS Laboratory).

Replacing the typical heat storage materials used in TES systems — synthetic oil and molten salts — with inexpensive sand can increase plant efficiency due to the increased working temperature of the storage material and therefore reduce costs. A TES system based on such a local and natural material like sand also represents a new sustainable energy approach that is relevant for the economic development of Abu Dhabi’s future energy systems.

The analyses showed that it is possible to use desert sand as a TES material up to 800-1,000 °C. The sand chemical composition has been analyzed with the X-ray fluorescence (XRF) and X-ray diffraction (XRD) techniques, which reveal the dominance of quartz and carbonate materials. The sand’s radiant energy reflectiveness was also measured before and after a thermal cycle, as it may be possible to use the desert sand not only as a TES material but also as a direct solar absorber under concentrated solar flux.

Dr Nicolas Calvet said: “The availability of this material in desert environments such as the UAE allows for significant cost reductions in novel CSP plants, which may use it both as TES material and solar absorber. The success of the Sandstock project reflects that usability and practical benefits of the UAE desert sand.”

In parallel to sand characterization, a laboratory scale prototype was tested with a small solar furnace at the laboratory of PROMES CNRS 1 MW solar furnace in Odeillo, France. Masdar Institute alumnus Alberto Crespo Iniesta was in charge of the design, construction, and experiment.

The next step of the project is to test an improved prototype at the pre-commercial scale at the Masdar Institute Solar Platform (MISP) using the beam down concentrator, potentially in collaboration with an industrial partner.