GE unit invests with KGAL in 50-MW Spanish concentrated solar power plant featuring molten salt energy storage
GE Energy Financial Services and German fund KGAL are jointly investing €111.1 million in a 50-megawatt parabolic trough concentrated solar power plant using molten salt energy storage in Torre de Miguel Sesmero, Badajoz, Spain.
The GE unit and KGAL agreed to invest structured equity in Extresol II, developed by Spain-based ACS, Europe’s largest developer, builder and operator of solar thermal power plants. Additional financial details were not disclosed. ACS has built more than €2 billion worth of concentrated solar power facilities with molten salt storage in Spain. An ACS subsidiary, Cobra, finished construction of Extresol II in Dec. 2010 and provides operations and maintenance services to the plant.
This investment is GE Energy Financial Services’ first in a concentrated solar power plant using molten salt storage. Concentrated solar power involves generating power from steam turbines with heat from the sun, avoiding the use of traditional fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas or oil. The plants use mirrors that reflect sunlight to heat a thermal fluid. The fluid is used to boil water to create steam and power steam turbines that generate electricity. Extresol II stores some of the solar heat by melting a special salt mixture during the day, then extracts the heat when the sun isn’t shining, such as at night, to continue producing steam for the turbines. Because salt is able to store heat for long periods, these facilities can generate electricity an extra seven hours a day.
Spain was the first country to use concentrated solar power integrated with molten salt storage. Sixteen 50-megawatt projects have been built in Spain in the last five years, with another 25 under construction or planned. Worldwide, 30 concentrated solar power projects are operating, 10 using molten salt storage and more than 20 under construction or development.