Novatec Solar has started construction of a direct molten salt (DMS) demonstrator at its demonstration Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) plant PE 1 in Spain.

Novatec Solar has started construction of a direct molten salt (DMS) demonstrator at its demonstration solar thermal power (CSP) plant PE 1 in Spain.

For the first time in Europe, the use of molten salt as heat transfer fluid in a linear Fresnel collector will be tested. Novatec Solar will integrate a molten salt loop in its existing solar thermal plant PE1. The construction and operation of the DMS-Fresnel demonstrator will allow gaining significant experiences and will be the basis for further commercialisation of this technology.

Novatec Solar has developed a cost efficient Fresnel collector technology based on direct steam generation. In order to develop a storage system for its technology, Novatec Solar has identified molten salt as medium with the greatest potential as storage medium. Molten salt is widely applied in solar thermal power plant technology as storage medium. Novatec Solar intends to use molten salt not only as heat storage medium but as heat transfer fluid directly in its linear Fresnel collector (direct molten salt), allowing process temperatures of up to 550°C.

Constructution site of DMS-collector at PE1, Spain

Thermal storage is crucial for solar thermal power generation in order to supply power generation on demand, allowing to further increase the renewable energy share while maintaining grid stability. By integrating DMS technology, the annual operating hours of Novatec Solar’s solar power plants will substantially increase up to base load power plant characteristics. Consequently, the levelised cost of electricity of solar power plants based on DMS technology will be significantly reduced and will strengthen Novatec Solar’s position as leading Fresnel technology provider.

The project will receive a € 1.8 million funding from the Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).

Novatec Solar is a leading technology provider and original equipment manufacturer of efficient, low cost direct solar steam generators (solar boilers) based on Fresnel collector technology. Novatec Solar’s solar field technology generates steam with temperatures up to 550°C. Novatec Solar undertakes manufacture, supply, turnkey delivery and operation of solar boilers for a range of applications including power stations, desalination plants and industrial processes. Novatec Solar successfully delivered two commercial power plants in Spain with 1.4 and 30MWel and one augmentation plant in Australia with 9.3MWth.

World’s largest solar thermal power plant based on linear Fresnel technology

In August 2012, the 30 MWel solar thermal power plant Puerto Errado 2 has started commercial operation. The plant daily supplies the electricity for 15‘000 homes, generated from 100% renewable resources. The plant which was turnkey delivered by the German technology provider Novatec Solar, performs excellent and even exceeds the expectations of the investors. From September 2012 until August 2013, the plant has generated 40,000 MWh of electricity.

The construction of the unique solar power plant on an area of 650,000m2 has started with the ground-breaking ceremony in April 2010. In 28 solar field rows of 1000 m length each, 302,000m2 mirror surface has been installed which captures the sun rays in southern Spain. The location Calasparra is predestined for the application, with more than 3‘000 hours of sun per year; the region is one of the sunniest in Europe.

Flat glass mirrors (so called primary reflectors) focus the sunlight onto an absorber tube filled with water. As a result, the water is heated up and evaporates at 275°C and 55 bar. The saturated steam is directed to two turbines, driving a 15 MW generator each. Thus, the thermal energy is converted into electricity and fed into the grid. The steam from the turbines is condensed in air cooled condensers and recirculated to the solar field. Special developed cleaning robots clean the mirrors during the night and ensure an almost waterless cleaning. The grass underneath the mirror rows is regularly grazed by sheep; thereby avoiding the use of machines. Furthermore, Puerto Errado 2 does not use additional energy produced by gas or oil combustion but generates steam directly, not using thermal oil as heat transfer fluid. The result is 100 percent ecological power.

The project company Tubo Sol PE2, S.L. has been founded under Spanish law for the construction and operation of the power station. Shareholder of the company are the Swiss utilities EBL (Genos-senschaft Elektra Baselland (51%), Industrielle Werke Basel (IWB) (12%), Elektrizitätswerke der Stadt Zürich (10%), Elektrizitätswerke des Kantons Zürich (6%), Energie Wasser Bern (6%) and the techno-logy provider Novatec Solar (15%).