28 Jan 2013

A NEW DESIGN 100Mw CSP IS NEARLY OPERATIONAL.  Located on one of the 7 United Arab Emirates, SW of Abu-Dhabi (near the Persian Gulf) is what may be the world’s first hybrid (Nat- gas and CSP).  It is called “SHAMS 1” (SUN 1) – Phase 1, aims to power 20,000 homes by combining CSP with a small amount of Nat-gas. The plant covers nearly a square mile of the desert landscape, which itself imposes technical challenges now largely overcome.  The project is a consortium of Masdar (An Abu Dhabi Energy Co.), Total S.A. (French multi-national Corp.), and Abengoa Solar (Spain).

SHAMS -1 USES PARABOLIC MIRRORS FOCUSED ON OIL-FILLED PIPES.  The pipes are filled with special oil (heat transfer fluid) that heats the fluid to to more than 300 degrees Celsius. That oil then, transfers its heat energy to water which is turned into steam.  PROBLEM IS: Steam-driven generator turbines require super-heated steam at 500 degrees…

THAT IS WHERE NAT-Gas COMES- IN AS A “BOOSTER-HEATER”. In an innovative variant of CSP technology, the plant then uses Nat gas to “super-heat” the steam to upwards of 500 degrees to drive a generator turbine (as in all thermo-electrical generators). The use of Nat-gas as a booster-heater , actually provides many other benefits such a heat stabilizing and enables optimal high temperature required for the steam turbine.  Another benefit is that it also allows the plant to operate at night, while maintaining a high degree of generating stability.

SHAMS-1 ALSO REQUIRED TECNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT TO OPERATE IN WINDY DESERT AREAS.  Masdar says constant wind, dust and sand have forced innovations in wind blocking strategies, and the design/development of truck mounted cleaning equipment for parabolic mirrors.  Another desert adaptation is a “dry-cooling system”.  Rather than using copious amounts of water to cool the steam condensate water (after it leaves the turbines) huge fans have been installed to do the cooling.  Pretty ingenious, hope it it suffices!

COMPETITIVE PRESSURES – SOLAR CELLS ARE CHEAP RIGHT NOW. The recent glut/plummeting cost of solar cells may challenge the commercial viability of CSP; Even so, this innovative Hybrid-CSP technology overcomes many seemingly insurmountable deficiencies of Solar-cell technology. SHAMS-1 is scheduled to go online in coming months, and expects make a significant contribution to Abu Dhabi’s commitment to produce 7% of its renewable sources energy.  We wish them success, and hope Abu-Dhabi sees fit to increase its paltry renewable energy source aspiration.  They can do much better than that!

Thanks to Triple Pundit / 25 Jan 2013.



ABU-DHABI SHOULD BE COMMENDED for its interest in renewable energy sources, and sea water desalination projects, even in the midst of their abundant oil resources.  They see what many other countries fail to see: It is the responsibility of every government to reduce its carbon dioxide/other emissions into the world’s atmosphere. We are all together in “Spaceship Earth”.  They also recognized the need to join expertise from different countries/sources more CSP-knowledgeable than they, and created this consortium, to provide avenues of international technical interchange which we believe will prove beneficial to many countries; specially, those located in arid, sandy countries.  One might be amazed at the large proportion of the earth’s land mass that comprises; and unfortunately, at the rapid growth of global desertification.

SHAMS-1 PROTOTYPE IS REPUTED TO HAVE BEEN BUILT AT A COST OF $600 M; But, that is the cost of a “first of its kind CSP.  “Phase 1”, implies that once it is tweaked, Phase 2 and subsequent like units could be built; hopefully, at a lower cost.  That leads us to a cost comparison versus a Nuclear Power Plant (NPP).  Normally, NPPs require 10 years to build and cost about $10,000 M, so we need to consider the “cost of capital” for 10 years. Assuming that, an NPP will produce 1,200MW-the power equivalent of 12 SHAM-1s, but at a cost of $7,200 M spent incrementally to reduce cost of capital.  Folks, the math makes sense!  Plus CSPs will not produce any transuranic nuclear toxic materials, or pose a meltdown threat.

THERE ARE SEVERAL PROMINENT VARIANTS OF CSP COMPETING FOR A “PLACE IN THE SUN”- GOOD! – We all stand to benefit.  It is not within the scope of this article to even attempt to provide details about the most promising such ventures.  We will from time to time provide articles about other promising CSP Projects, as well as other renewable energy developments- fortunately, there are many under development.

THE “HOLY- GRAIL” of renewable energy at present, is to produce, and place on grid electrical energy at prices competitive with, or lower than the market rates (about 10 cents per Kwh.).  Hopefully, the miracle of competition will come to the consumers help.

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)


NEWS UPDATE – 17 Mar 2013  Abu Dhabi officially opened on 17 Mar 2013 the world’s largest Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant covering 2.5 square kilometers in Madinat Zayed (Western Region), with a cost of $600 million to build, and will provide electricity to 20,000 homes.  Shams 1 was designed and developed by “Shams Power Company”, a joint venture among  Masdar (60 %), while France’s ‘Total” and Spain’s “ Abengoa Solar” own 20 % each.  Santiago Seage, CEO of “Abengoa Solar” said: Shams 1 is the largest CSP plant in all terms”.  The United Arab Emirates (UAE’s) leaders were on site for the ceremonial opening, led by President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayad Al-Nahayan, and his vice president, Prime Minister and ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.



Looks like MASDAR delivered “on budget and on time”.  Our congratulations, and may this Phase 1 be the first of many others in the region.

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

January 28, 2013 at 8:29 PM Comments (0)