Hybrid schemes feature in solar investments

Paul Boughton
Among many new investments in solar technology are a number of hybrid schemes - including combined cycle gas plants and wind farms.

Florida Power & Light has inaugurated the world's first hybrid solar power plant. Known as the Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Centre, it spans 500 acres in western Martin County, Florida, and connects a field of more than 190,000 solar thermal mirrors with an existing combined-cycle natural gas power plant.

Innovative technology enables the mirrors to track the sun over the course of a day to harness free fuel from the sun's rays to create electricity and directly offset the use of fossil fuels.

The 75MW centre is designed to harness free fuel from the sun's rays to power about 11,000 homes. This technology is expected to reduce fossil fuel consumption by approximately 41 billion ft3 of natural gas and more than 600000 barrels of oil. This in turn would prevent the release of more than 2.75 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions and save FPL customers about US$178m (EUR127m) in fuel costs over the facility's estimated 30-year lifetime.

In Canada, SunEdison, has been awarded 31MW of solar photovoltaic projects by the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) as part of the province's feed-in tariff programme. This recent announcement adds to the 28MW of ground-mount and rooftop solar projects already deployed by SunEdison in Ontario.

Clean energy

Located in communities across the province including Mississauga, Whitby, Drummond, Rideau Lakes and Ingleside, the projects will generate over 47 million kWh of clean energy in the first year of operation and produce over 873 million kWh over 20 years. That is enough energy to power more than 76,000 average Canadian homes for one year.

SunEdison was awarded two 10MW projects in Rideau Lakes, one 10MW project in South Stormont, one 500kW project in Mississauga, and one 500kW project in Whitby.

In 2009, together with SkyPower Activate First Light, the company inaugurated Canada's first operational solar energy park (Fig. 1).

In another tie-up, Duke Energy and SunEdison have activated the final phases of a 17.2MW solar farm in Davidson County, North Carolina, USA.

Constructed in five phases and covering over 200 acres of land, the project is comprised of more than 63,000 photovoltaic solar panels and is expected to generate an estimated 28 million kWh - enough energy to power more than 2600 homes a year.

The solar farm was made possible through a solar energy service agreement between SunEdison and Duke Energy whereby SunEdison designed and deployed the project and will be responsible for the ongoing operations and maintenance of the facility.[Page Break]

Mainland Europe goes solar

ABB has won a US$50m (EUR36m) order from Phenix Renewables to deliver a 24 MW photovoltaic solar power plant in Lazio, central Italy.

Once connected to the grid, the Phenix solar plant will supply up to 35 GWh of electricity a year, avoiding the generation of over 25,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to the annual emission of over 10,000 European cars.

ABB will be responsible for the design, engineering, erection, civil works and commissioning of the plant. ABB's modular EBoP (electrical balance of plant) concept will enable fast track execution within four months.

The 24.2MW plant is based on single-axis trackers, which precisely follow the position of the sun to position photovoltaic panels at the best angle for maximum energy production. Key ABB products in this project include low- and medium-voltage switchgear, transformers, cables, the automation and control system and protection equipment. ABB will also build a 150kV substation equipped with the latest monitoring and control system to facilitate reliable and efficient integration of the electrical power generated by the solar panels into the grid.

Photovoltaic plants

Siemens Energy has received a follow-up order for the turnkey construction of eight photovoltaic plants in Italy. The solar power plants will be erected in the Marche and Abruzzo regions, between the Adriatic Sea and the Apennine Mountains. The customer is Viridis Energia, a joint venture between Echidna and LaGI. After completion in spring 2011 the combined rating of 14MW will provide about 5000 households in Italy with environmentally friendly power.

As the EPC contractor, Siemens is responsible for the turnkey construction, engineering and project management of the photovoltaic plants. The scope of supply includes the full range of Siemens components, such as inverters, medium-voltage equipment as well as monitoring systems. Siemens has already received an order for the construction of another 3 MW photovoltaic plant located in the Marche region from the same customer.

Also in Italy, OPDE ITALIA has begun the construction of six new photovoltaic solar farms in the region of Piedmont. The combined generating capacity of all farms is 26MW, and EUR120m will initially be invested in the projects. The company currently has more than 58 MW of solar projects on its books.

OPDE is also involved with ArcelorMittal Construcción España to develop the photovoltaic roof-top market in industrial buildings and car parks. The use of the roofs and canopies to generate electrical power is a growing market and is an architectural solution for energy self-sufficiency and combating climate change. ArcelorMittal Construcción España already has three different solutions for roof-top photovoltaic installations in industrial buildings, canopies and fixed structures. This agreement opens up the opportunity to use OPDE's photovoltaic technologies, along with its network of 1272 qualified installers, in 48 countries.[Page Break]

Solar inverters

Satcon Technology Corporation has announced that it has been selected by Relatio to supply 39 PowerGate Plus 500 kW solar inverter solutions for the 19.5MW Tauberlandpark installation in Wertheim-Dörlesberg, Germany. The project is the largest of its kind for Satcon in Germany and marks a significant step in Satcon's continued growth in the European utility-scale solar market.

"The Tauberlandpark project is one of Germany's largest utility-scale solar power installations," said Andreas Schneider, ceo of Relatio Holding. "A project of this scale demands that we partner with an industry leader who brings both the high quality technology and experience that will deliver the highest levels of performance and reliability to our customers. We have selected Satcon due to the proven success of their PowerGate Plus solar PV inverters in many of the world's largest and most complex large-scale solar power plants."

Boralex, a Canadian electricity producer whose core business is the development and operation of power stations that generate renewable energy, and Q-Cells, a world leader in the photovoltaic industry, also announced that they have started building a solar energy park in southern France.

The Avignonet-Lauragais solar park is scheduled to start operating in May 2011, with the electricity generated adding up to 4.5MW to Boralex's asset portfolio. Under a turnkey agreement, the engineers of the Q-Cells French subsidiary are responsible for the engineering, construction and maintenance of the facility.

Equipped with Q-Cells photovoltaic panels and cells, this first solar park developed by the Boralex team will be located on land adjacent to the Avignonet-Lauragais wind farm, creating the first mixed solar and wind energy power generation site in France.

Japan's solar option

In Japan, Kyocera has signed an agreement with Tohoku Electric Power to supply 3MW of its multicrystalline silicon solar modules.

The modules will be installed in the Sendai and Hachinohe plants, currently being constructed by Tohoku Electric Power.

The Sendai solar power plant in Shichigahama, Miyagi prefecture, with a capacity of 2MW will generate 2100MWh of electricity, which is sufficient to power 600 homes.

The 1.5MW Hachinohe solar power plant being constructed in Hachinohe, Aomori prefecture, will have 1MW of capacity installed by Kyocera and will generate 1600MWh of electricity to power 500 homes.

The construction for both plants is slated to be completed by January 2012.

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