Abengoa's Solana CSP plant enters in testing phase
By Jorge Alcauza on 16 September, 2013 - 11:45
Abengoa's Solana CSP plant enters in testing phase

Solana, the Concentrated Solar Power plant being built by Abengoa in Arizona has reportedly entered in testing phase.

The Solana plant, located near Gila Bend, has been sending 120 MW out of a total output of 280 MW to the grid during a number of tests being carried out to check the plant's performance.

The tests are being conducted to check all of the plant's equiment prior to the definitive connection to the grid.  “They brought it up the other day and there was some vibration in one of the turbines. Normal stuff. (The turbine vendor) rebalanced it.” has told Pat Dinkel, APS vice president of resource management to AZcentral.

APS, Arizona's largest electric company will buy the electricity generated by Solana at a reported price of about 14 cents per kWh. Under the signed Power Purchase Agreement, the utility will buy Solana's generation for a 30 years period, the total power is worth $4 billion. APS signed the PPA to help meet the 15% target of electricity through renewable sources by 2025.

“They are making nice progress,” Dinkel said. “It looks very positive for the plant coming online in the next month or so”.

The Solana plant is the world's largest parabolic trough type plant, and the second largest CSP plant, behind Ivanpah, a tower type plant about to be completed with 377 MW. However, there are some points to discuss about the largest CSP plant, in a previous story here at CSP World, we tried to put some light on this issue, although it's time to update that info, it's still useful.

The plant includes two 140 MW turbines fed by the steam generated thanks to the 2,200,000 square meters of reflecting parabolic mirrors that concentrate the sunlight onto the tubes (heat collector elements) where a synthetic oil is flowing inside, capturing heat to boil water.

This is Abengoa's first plant to use molten salt energy storage technology, what will allow the plant to store the equivalent thermal energy to run the plant for six hours at full power without sunlight. Thanks to this behaviour, Abengoa will manage the plant's production to follow the electricity demand, even after the sunset. More detailed info about the plant can be found here.

The plant's construction began on December 2010 and has creted about 1,700 jobs-year. With a total cost of roughly $2 billion, the project received a DOE federal loan guarantee worth $1.45 billion.

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