ABB Concept to Revolutionize Concentrating Solar Power Plants

ABB has launched a new concept for turnkey concentrating solar power plants based on a low-cost, highly efficient and highly scalable technology that uses considerably less material, land and water than any other CSP technology.

ABB and Novatec Solar, a company in which ABB is a shareholder, are together able to offer scalable turnkey solutions for revolutionary concentrating solar power (CSP) plants that are extremely quick, easy and cost effective to build and operate.

Based on Novatec Solar’s patented Fresnel-based CSP technology, the plants use 70 percent less material, require 40 percent less land and consume 80 percent less water per megawatt generated than parabolic trough designs.

The ABB-Novatec Solar concept can be used to generate energy in a wide range of applications including stand alone or hybrid power plants, as fuel savers in existing power plants, in desalination and district cooling plants, and in industrial processes that require steam.

This is achieved through an innovative solar boiler design for direct steam generation based on linear Fresnel collector technology. Instead of the curved mirrors of a parabolic trough, the collectors use flat glass mirrors to reflect solar energy onto a receiver in which water is vaporized directly to produce superheated steam at temperatures of up to 500 degrees Celsius and a pressure of 100 bars.

By using standard materials such as sheet plates and glass mirrors, the automated mass production of key components in locally erected production facilities, a fast and accurate assembly process, highly efficient land use, and a robotic cleaning system that uses very little water, the cost of building and operating the plants is kept exceptionally low, features that offer huge potential for global deployment.

“I was really impressed by the technology and its simplicity. This cost-effective solution and the very low amount of water needed, make it particularly suitable for installations in Algeria and all African countries experiencing difficult climate conditions.”

Bennaceur Fateh, expert engineer at Sonelgaz CEEG
In September, this concept was introduced to some 50 customers from all over the world visiting two installations in Spain to learn more about the ABB-Novatec offering and see the simplicity and ingenuity of the technology at first hand.

The guests visited Novatec Solar’s 1.4 megawatt (MWe) demonstration plant in Murcia, which has been generating power for the Spanish power grid since 2009. Next to the site and currently under construction is the first commercial installation of the technology - a 30 MWe solar thermal power plant that is scheduled to start generating power for the grid in 2012.

A third plant in Australia demonstrates the versatility of the concept. When completed in early 2012 the 9.3 MWth plant will be the world’s first solar boiler contributing steam to drive the turbines and helping reduce carbon emissions.

“The concept fits very well with our products. In particular, it is possible to couple with it a power block with one of our steam turbines and generators. The high temperature achieved by the solution can play a significant role in the field of integrated solar gas turbine power plants. Compared to other technologies, the ratio of megawatt-hours per square meter is particularly favorable.”

Lucio Gallo, Vice President and Head of Renewables and Distributed Energies, Ansaldo Energia
In addition to its role as engineering, procurement and construction (EPC), ABB will also supply the electrical and control equipment for the plant and provide the all-important grid connection to ensure the safe and reliable delivery of the electricity generated to the power grid.

ABB already has a highly successful EPC concept for photovoltaic (PV) power plants, and has successful delivered 26 plants with a combined capacity of more than 120 MW in the past nine months alone (tbc). The largest of these plants has a generating capacity of 39 MW.


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