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Abengoa 50 MW Solar Plant Goes Online In Spain

Date: 25-May-10
Country: SPAIN
Author: REUTERS

Spanish renewable energy firm Abengoa said on Monday a 50-megawatt solar plant it had built which is capable of supplying 27,500 homes had begun feeding power to the grid.

The Solnova 3 plant is part of Abengoa's Solucar complex near the southwestern city of Seville, which will have an installed capacity of 300 MW when complete.

Abengoa said in a statement the new plant would avoid the emission of 31,400 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, which would be produced if the same amount of power was generated from fossil fuels.

Abengoa now has 143 MW of solar power plants in operation, another 350 MW under construction, and several thousand MW planned in various parts of the world.

The company signed a deal in 2008 with the Arizona Public Service utility in the United States to build the 280 MW Solana plant, which will be the biggest of its type in the world.

Most of Abengoa's solar plants are of the concentrated solar power (CSP) type, which concentrates the suns ray's to heat up water and drive a generator, as opposed to photovoltaic plants (PV), which directly convert sunlight into electricity.

The Solucar complex includes a 165-meter high tower illuminated by concentrated solar rays, which can generate 20 MW.

Spain has heavily subsidized renewable energy in recent years in order to cut its heavy dependence on imported fuels and its carbon emissions, which are high above Kyoto levels, and is now the world's second-largest producer of solar power.

The Spanish government forecasts that solar power capacity will rise to 15,685 MW by 2020 from about 3,300 at present in order to comply with European Union renewable energy targets.

Spanish renewable companies, however, fear that subsidy cuts by the cash-strapped government could jeopardize the sector, especially if they are backdated, as media reports have suggested.

Solar power cannot currently compete with conventional power on cost, but the International Energy Agency estimates that it could do by 2020, after which it has the potential to expand and provide 22 percent of the world's electricity by 2050.

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