World's tallest CSP tower completed; Spanish CSP output hikes 16.8%

Our pick of the latest solar thermal news you need to know.

The 100 MW CSP tower power plant at Noor Energy 1 is scheduled to be online by October. (Image credit: Shanghai Electric)

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Shanghai Electric completes Noor Energy 1 CSP tower in Dubai

Construction partners on the 950 MW Noor Energy 1 CSP-PV project in Dubai completed the 260-meter high receiver tower on January 9, Shanghai Electric, lead EPC contractor, said in a statement.

The $4.4 billion Noor Energy 1 project will be the world's largest CSP plant and includes a 100 MW CSP tower plant, three 200 MW parabolic trough CSP systems, 250 MW of PV capacity and 15 hours of molten salt CSP storage capacity.

Developed by Saudi Arabia's ACWA Power, the Dubai Electricity Water Authority (DEWA) awarded the project in 2017 at a record-low tariff of $73/MWh.

  Global levelized costs for solar, wind in 2010-2022

                                (Click image to enlarge)

Source: IRENA's 'Renewable power generation costs in 2018' report (May 2019).

The Noor Energy 1 project reached financial closure in March 2019. The cost will be met through $2.9 billion of debt and $1.5 billion of equity. DEWA is to provide $750 million, half of the project equity. Of the remaining half, ACWA Power will provide 51% and China's Silk Road Fund 49%. In June 2019, the Silk Road Fund purchased a 49% stake in ACWA Power's renewable energy business.

The project will include technologies from a wide range of European suppliers as well as U.S. group BrightSource.

Belgium's CMI will supply the molten salt receiver for the tower plant and Rioglass will supply the heliostats, while BrightSource will supply the control systems for the tower plant section.

Spain's Abengoa will supply the parabolic trough systems and Lointek will supply the integrated steam generation system and oil-salt thermal storage system. Germany's Siemens will supply four steam turbine generators and auxiliary equipment for the parabolic trough and tower plants. Denmark's Aalborg will supply steam generation technology for the parabolic trough section.

Shanghai Electric is faced with the challenge of minimizing costs while also meeting a demanding construction schedule. The plant will be brought online in phases in 2020-2022 and the first parabolic trough plant and central tower unit are scheduled to be completed by October 2020.

Spanish CSP output hits 5.2 GWh, beating five-year average

Spain's CSP power output rose by 16.8% in 2019, to 5.2 GWh, CSP industry group Protermo Solar said January 21.

CSP output was 3.8% higher than the average for the last five years and signals improving operations and maintenance (O&M) efficiency for Spain's CSP fleet, Protermo Solar said.

Installed CSP capacity is around 2.3 GW and new build activity halted in 2012 after the Spanish government introduced sales taxes and removed subsidies.

Spain's CSP plants "continue to operate without showing signs of degradation and incorporate operating experiences that make them more efficient," Protermo Solar said.

Following a decade of proven performance, financial investors have recently acquired a number of plants.

Renewable energy yieldco Terraform Power acquired 350 MW of CSP capacity while Credit Suisse Energy Infrastructure Partners purchased a 49% stake in 250 MW of capacity.

Rising capacity factors are helping to drive down global CSP costs, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), said in a report in 2019.

In 2018, the global average rated capacity factor of CSP plants rose by six percentage points year-on-year to 45%, IRENA said.

Abengoa wins third-party O&M contract in Spain

Biomass power group Ence Energia y Celulosa has awarded Abengoa a three-year operation and maintenance (O&M) contract for its 50 MW Termollano parabolic trough plant in Puertollano, central Spain, Abengoa announced January 22.

The Termollano plant was commissioned in 2009 and the deal represents Abengoa's first full O&M contract for a plant it has not built. Abengoa will supply O&M services and implement preventative, predictive and corrective maintenance measures. The contract is extendable for up to 13 years.

Ence purchased the Termollano plant from power utility Iberdrola in late 2018 as part of a strategy to diversify into new renewable energy technologies.

"This acquisition will provide Ence with a stable annual EBITDA of 18 million euros [$19.8 million] before synergies," the company said at the time.

In December 2019, Ence completed a new 46 MW biomass facility adjacent to the Termollano CSP plant.

"Ence is firmly committed to the hybridization of some solar thermal power plants with biomass plants," the company said in 2018.

"With high CO2 prices, renewable energy generation with biomass not only competes with gas but also creates and settles rural employment," it said.

Abengoa has provided O&M services to 1.6 GW of CSP and PV capacity, including the 280 MW Solana plant in the U.S., the 100 MW Shams-1 plant in UAE and the Kaxu, Khi and Xina Solar One plants in South Africa.

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