Solar-thermal power plants remain the essence of the brand and the focus of activities
Solar Millennium AG (ISIN DE0007218406) is expanding its solar strategy and, in doing so, broadening its technology base. As CEO Dr. Christoph Wolff mentioned at today’s Annual Shareholder Meeting in Erlangen, the Company intends to generate synergy effects by building not only parabolic trough power plants, but also applying other technologies for the use of solar energy in major power plants around the world in the future. The essence of the brand and the focus of activities will remain on solar-thermal power plants, in particular those based on the parabolic trough technology. Photovoltaics are to be additionally used in individual projects. This will allow the team’s expertise in the business fields of Project Development & Financing as well as Construction to be used even more extensively and efficiently.
In the case of solar-thermal power plants, mirrors concentrate the solar radiation and thereby generate the heat energy used to create electricity. The major advantage of this technology lies in the fact that the heat energy can be stored in an inexpensive and efficient manner, thus allowing electricity to be supplied reliably on demand, even after sunset. While Solar Millennium specializes in parabolic trough power plants and holds a leading position here, the Company intends to use technologies other than parabolic troughs, for example solar tower power plants, in the medium to long term: Solar Millennium began establishing its own research and development team last year aimed at the marketable development of solar tower power plants. In addition, the Company is pursuing the use of photovoltaics, especially in combination with parabolic trough plants, in order to better utilize the potential of power plant surfaces.
Dr. Christoph Wolff, CEO of Solar Millennium AG: “The expertise in project development, solar data measurement and approval processes can be used in equal measure for all power plant technologies. These synergy effects allow us to better utilize the capacities of our teams in the scope of our business model and increase the number of our potential power plant locations.” Project locations not suitable for one type of technology due to their size, qualities or other general conditions can therefore still be used by Solar Millennium by applying other technologies to generate solar power.
While parabolic trough power plants have been in use for years and Solar Millennium realizes plants using this technology in Egypt, Spain and the US, there is still a need for development when it comes to solar tower power plants. With parabolic trough plants, the solar radiation is concentrated in long parabolically curved rows of mirrors onto a pipe in the focal line of the collector. In the case of solar towers, several sun-tracking biaxial mirrors, or so-called heliostats, concentrate the solar radiation onto a central receiver at the top of a tower. How the various technologies are used in the future will depend on the purpose, the characteristics of the location and the general conditions of each respective market.
On surfaces less suitable for solar-thermal power plants due to their composition or lack in size, Solar Millennium wants to turn to photovoltaics in the future, above all as a supplement to parabolic trough plants for the commercial use of uneven terrain or border areas of the project locations. The existing knowhow of the teams working in project development, financing and power plant construction can also be used for this technology. Depending on the project, the Company plans to cooperate with experienced photovoltaic partners; the cells are to be purchased on the global market.
Dr. Wolff explains the strategic orientation: “Solar power has the greatest potential of all renewable energy sources and requires the least surface area per kilowatt hour generated. The name Solar Millennium today stands for the successful development and realization of large-scale solar power plants. They now allow for the sustainable supply of electricity to large cities and industry at the same level of output as nuclear power plants. We hope to continue down this path of success and to expand using additional solar technologies. Solar power therefore enjoys priority in all investment decisions of project development as well as in our research and development plans.”
Solar Millennium AG, Erlangen, (ISIN DE0007218406) is an international company in the renewable energy sector, with its main focus on solar-thermal power plants. Together with its subsidiaries and associates, the Company specializes in parabolic trough power plants and has managed to take a globally leading position in this field. Solar Millennium strives to further extend its expertise in the area of solar-thermal power plants with the aim of achieving and securing sustainable technology leadership. As such, the Company covers all important business sectors along the value chain for solar-thermal power plants: from project development and financing to the technology and the turnkey construction and operation of power plants. In Spain, Solar Millennium developed Europe’s first parabolic trough power plants and realized these together with partners. Additional projects are planned around the world with an overall capacity of more than 2,000 megawatts: here the current regional focus is on Spain, the US, the Middle East and North Africa.
Solar-thermal power plants generate electricity by converting solar radiation into heat energy. In a parabolic trough power plant, trough-shaped mirrors concentrate the incidental radiation onto a pipe in the focal line of the collector. Its absorption heats a fluid heat medium in the pipe, generating steam in the power block through a heat exchanger. As in conventional power plants, the steam powers a turbine to generate electricity. By integrating thermal storage, electricity can be supplied on demand, even after sunset.