Tag Archives: solar energy

Andasol: the world’s biggest solar power farm

A general view of the Andasol solar power station near Guadix, southern Spain August 10, 2015. The plant is the biggest solar farm in the world and provides electricity for up to about 500,000 people. The 620,000 curved mirrors harness the sun's power even after dark, and the glass alone would cover 1.5 square km (0.6 square miles) - the size of about 210 soccer pitches. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo

A general view of the Andasol solar power station near Guadix, southern Spain August 10, 2015. The plant is the biggest solar farm in the world and provides electricity for up to about 500,000 people. The 620,000 curved mirrors harness the sun’s power even after dark, and the glass alone would cover 1.5 square km (0.6 square miles) – the size of about 210 soccer pitches. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo

By Marcelo del Pozo, Reuters 
October, 2015

On a barren, sun-baked plateau in southern Spain, row upon row of gleaming mirrors form one of the world’s biggest solar power plants and harness the sun’s power even after dark.

Near the town of Guadix, where summer temperatures often top 40 degrees Celsius, the main sound at the site is a whirring of motors to keep the mirrors – mounted on giant steel frames – tracking the sun as the Earth turns.

The Andasol plant, whose name combines the local Andalucia region with the Spanish word for sun – “sol,” provides electricity for up to about 500,000 people from about 620,000 curved mirrors.

Staff walk behind solar collector assemblies at the Andasol solar power station near Guadix, southern Spain August 11, 2015. The plant is the biggest solar farm in the world and provides electricity for up to about 500,000 people. The 620,000 curved mirrors harness the sun's power even after dark, and the glass alone would cover 1.5 square km (0.6 square miles) - the size of about 210 soccer pitches. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo

Staff walk behind solar collector assemblies at the Andasol solar power station near Guadix, southern Spain August 11, 2015. The plant is the biggest solar farm in the world and provides electricity for up to about 500,000 people. The 620,000 curved mirrors harness the sun’s power even after dark, and the glass alone would cover 1.5 square km (0.6 square miles) – the size of about 210 soccer pitches. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo

The glass alone would cover 1.5 square km – the size of about 210 soccer pitches. Installed electricity generating capacity at this semi-desert site is about 150 megawatts.

There is little sign of life here, at an altitude of 1,100 meters near the snow-capped Sierra Nevada range. Some hardy red and yellow flowers grow around the fringes, a few pigeons flap past and workers say that the odd fox lopes by at night.

The environmental benefits of clean energy are judged to outweigh the scar to the landscape from the mirrors, which are visible from space. The land is infertile, there is little wildlife and few people live nearby. The biggest regional city, Granada, with about 240,000 people, is 70 km away.

Andasol was Europe’s first “parabolic trough solar power plant” when its first section opened in 2009 – California has the biggest.

Sunlight bounces off the mirrors to heat synthetic oil in a tube to a blazing 400 degrees Celsius. That energy is in turn used to drive a turbine, generating electricity.

At Andasol, some energy also goes into a “heat reservoir” – a tank containing thousands of tonnes of molten salt that can drive the turbines after sundown, or when it is overcast, for about 7.5 hours.

That gets round the main drawback for solar power – the sun does not always shine. The system is very different from better-known rooftop solar panels that transform sunlight directly into electricity.

Copyright Reuters 2015

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 ~~~

Facts and Opinions is a boutique journal, of reporting and analysis in words and images, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is funded by you, our readers. We do not carry advertising or “branded content,” or solicit donations from foundations or causes. If you appreciate our work, help us continue with a contribution, below, of at least .27 per story — or purchase a site pass for at least $1 per day or $20 per year. 

F&O’s CONTENTS page is updated each Saturday. Sign up for emailed announcements of new work on our free FRONTLINES blog; find evidence-based reporting in Reports; commentary, analysis and creative non-fiction in OPINION-FEATURES; and image galleries in PHOTO-ESSAYS. If you value journalism please support F&O, and tell others about us.

 

Posted in Also tagged , |

Tesla claims new battery is world-changing

To hear the company chief tell it, Tesla’s new battery will change the world.

Tesla Motors Inc. CEO Elon Musk announced the release, at an event live-streamed online, of a new Tesla battery design he described as “like a beautiful sculpture on a wall,” and of a scalable technology Musk said is capable of providing clean power for all human needs globally.

The Tesla "Powerwall" battery.

The Tesla “Powerwall” battery.

The need to store renewable energy was the missing piece for a carbon-free future world, Musk told a cheering audience in Hawthorne, California. All previous battery designs “suck,” said Musk. “They’re stinky … They’re bad in every way.”

A company press release said Tesla’s batteries are based on systems in Tesla electric vehicles. It described them as turn-key energy storage systems that integrate batteries, power electronics, thermal management and controls, and essentially plug into solar panels.

Tesla said its lithium-ion batteries are immediately for sale via its web site, teslaenergy.com, for $3,500 (U.S.) for a home unit, not including installation  provided in the U.S. by a list of approved partners. Purchased batteries will be delivered later this year, said Tesla.

The company said the batteries will allow residences, businesses and utilities “to store sustainable and renewable energy to manage power demand, provide backup power and increase grid resilience.”

“You don’t need to have a battery room. A normal household can mount it on their garage, or the outside wall of their house,” said Musk. “You can, if you want, go completely off grid,” or provide inexpensive, convenient power in remote areas far from electricity transmission lines.

Musk said larger versions of the battery technology, called Power Packs, can fuel entire cities — and 2 billion of them could provide all the electrical energy needed for the entire world.

Two billion sounds like a lot, said Musk, but noted there are already some 2 billion cars and trucks globally. “This is actually within the power of humanity to do. We have done things like this before. It’s not impossible.”

The patents on the technology are open, Musk announced to cheers, so any other company can use them to build the batteries, and move the world to sustainable energy.

“That’s the future we need to have,” said Musk. “It’s something that we must do, that we can do, and we will do.”

~~~

Facts and Opinions is an online journal of select and first-rate reporting and analysis, in words and images: a boutique for select journalism, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O performs journalism for citizens, funded entirely by readers. We do not carry advertising or solicit donations from foundations or causes. Help sustain us with a donation, by clicking below; by telling others about us, or purchasing a $1 day pass or subscription, from $2.95/month to $19.95/year. To receive F&O’s free blog emails fill in the form on the FRONTLINES page.

Posted in Current Affairs Also tagged , , |