The 531 foot-tall PS20 tower, located near Seville in Spain is the world’s most powerful solar power tower. Is capable of generating 20 mega-watts of energy by using 1,255 mirrors to harness the raw power sunlight.
Each mirror tracks the sun as it moves across the sky and aims light at the tower, which uses the massive heat generated to produce steam.
This steam is then converted into enough electricity to power 10,000 homes and save 12,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
The incredible sci-fi tower is part of the Socular solar complex, due to be completed in 2013. So far two towers surrounded by mirrors have been built.
According to Santiago Seage, CEO of Abengoa Solar, ‘Generating more power during production testing than the design output is indeed a significant milestone.
1. The solar tower is 115m (377ft) tall and surrounded by 600 steel reflectors (heliostats). They track the sun and direct its rays to a heat exchanger (receiver) at the top of the tower
2. The receiver converts concentrated solar energy from the heliostats into steam
3. Steam is stored in tanks and used to drive turbines that will produce enough electricity for up to 6,000 homes
Spain is one of the most advanced countries in the development of solar energy, since it is one of the countries of Europe with more hours of sunshine. The Spanish government committed to achieving a target of 12 percent of primary energy from renewable energy by 2010 with an installed solar generating capacity of 3000 megawatts (MW). Spain is the fourth largest manufacturer in the world of solar power technology and exports 80 percent of this output to Germany. Spain added a record 2.6 GW of solar power in 2008, increasing capacity to 3.5 GW. Total solar power in Spain was 4 GW by the end of 2010 and solar energy produced 6.9 terawatt-hours (TW·h), covering 2.7% of the electricity demand in 2010.
Through a ministerial ruling in March 2004, the Spanish government removed economic barriers to the connection of renewable energy technologies to the electricity grid. The Royal Decree 436/2004 equalized conditions for large-scale solar thermal and photovoltaic plants and guaranteed feed-in tariffs. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the Spanish government drastically cut its subsidies for solar power and capped future increases in capacity at 500 MW per year, with effects upon the industry worldwide.