Linear Fresnel solar power plant in commercial operation

Thursday, 23 April, 2009

The world’s first Linear Fresnel solar power plant in commercial operation has been developed in Spain by a company majority owned by Transfield Holdings, Novatec Biosol AG.

Linear Fresnel technology uses long parallel lines of flat mirrors that concentrate sunlight to heat water in an overhead collector tube, producing steam to drive a conventional steam turbine-generator. (Parabolic dish/trough technology uses curved mirrors, directly heating oil rather than water.)

The technology was recognised by the 2009 Hannover Fair where Novatec was awarded the overall Industry Prize, as well as the Energy and Environment Prize.

Novatec’s proprietary technology represents a breakthrough in solar energy, providing direct steam at a lower cost for electricity generation and process plants or as a fuel saver for existing plants. The technology is competitive with oil at/or below current prices.

The 1.4 MW plant in Murcia, generating power for the Spanish electricity grid, is the precursor to a 30 MW plant immediately adjacent. Permits are in hand for a further 60 MW of projects programmed to start in 2009.

The technology is particularly suitable for Australia, which has excellent solar resources. Aside from power generation, immediate opportunities exist to implement the technology as a fuel-saving application at industrial and process plants.

The technology has a number of design, environmental and cost-saving features that offer significant advantages over current technologies (such as parabolic trough systems).

Advantages include:

  • Low cost: lightweight construction — material usage is reduced. Rapid solar field assembly due to simple modular design and high-precision prefabricated components.
  • Low environmental impact: less land use than existing technologies; less earthworks (does not require level land); visually less intrusive — most of the structure is no higher than 1.2 m. Zero carbon emissions and virtually no water consumption in operation.

The solar field is suitable for a variety of applications, including process heat for mining, oil and gas, food, paper, textile and chemical industries, desalination and cogeneration plants.

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