No longer is it simply the choice between CSP and PV plants for generating renewable electricity from our sun. A growing number of hybrid plants are being launched that combine the assets of concentrating solar power with photovoltaic elements.
Almost one year ago, US-based SolarReserve announced its Copiapó CSP-PV hybrid project in Chile. This project will feature two 130 MW CSP solar towers with 14 hours of molten salt-based storage, that will be combined with a 150 MW PV plant. In total the facility will boast providing 260 MW of 24/7 baseload electricity.
According to SeeNews, the project value is worth some “USD 2 billion (EUR 1.57bn), comprises two CSP units of power tower technology, each with a nominal capacity of 120 MW, and a 150-MW PV facility. Net annual output is expected to stand at around 1,700 GWh.”
SolarReserve also plans two additional sites which will use CSP and PV technologies. The projects will total 800 MW and will be developed in the country within the next four years.
In a CleanEnergy case study, we learn hybrid utility-scale hybrid energy systems include geothermal + solar PV, biomass + solar CSP, solar PV + fuel cells, wind + solar PV, biodiesel + wind, gas + solar CSP, and coal + solar CSP.
Hybrid power systems combine two or more energy conversion mechanisms, or two or more fuels for the same mechanism, that when integrated, overcome limitations inherent in either. Hybrid systems provide a high level of energy security and reliability through the integrated mix of complementary generation methods, and often will incorporate a storage system (battery, fuel cell) or fossil-fueled power generation to ensure consistent supply.
Not all SolarReserve projects are CSP/PV hybrids, though.
In Johannesburg, South Africa, far across the Atlantic Ocean, the South Africa Department of Energy (DOE) awarded preferred bidder status for a 100 MW CSP project to a consortium led by SolarReserve and International Company for Water and Power Projects (ACWA Power), the Saudi water and power developer, owner and operator.
The first of its kind in Africa, the Redstone Solar Thermal Power Project features SolarReserve’s molten salt energy storage technology in a tower configuration with the capability to support South Africa’s demand for energy when it’s needed most – day and night.
According to the press announcement, the 100 MW project has a capacity of 12 hours of full-load energy storage will be able to reliably deliver a stable electricity supply to more than 200,000 South African homes during peak demand periods, even well after the sun has set. Fueled completely by the sun, with no back up fuel required, the project also features dry cooling of the power generation cycle as an important element to minimize water use.
“The Redstone project marks an important technology advancement for South Africa in solar power,” said SolarReserve’s CEO Kevin Smith. “Due to the fully integrated thermal energy storage, the plant will provide dispatchable power on-demand, just like conventional coal, oil, nuclear or natural gas-fired power plants, but without the harmful emissions or hazardous materials and without any fuel cost. In addition, the project’s delivered electricity price is the lowest of any Concentrating Solar Power project in the country to date.”
The project technology will be based on SolarReserve’s successful Crescent Dunes project in the US, which is complete with construction and currently in final commissioning.
More information about such hybrid plants will be reported in the future.
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