Torresol Energy, committed to innovation
In the year of its tenth anniversary, the company created by SENER and MASDAR to turn solar power into a real, clean alternative that can compete with traditional energy sources, contributes decisively to the advancement of cutting-edge technology. In close cooperation with SENER, the engineering and technology group that leads the solar thermal power market, the company is responsible for the operation and maintenance of three plants equipped with pioneering technology that differentiates them from other solar thermal power plants: Gemasolar – the world’s first commercial-scale power plant with solar central tower receiver technology, heliostat field and molten salt storage system –and Valle 1 and Valle 2– with SENERtrough® parabolic trough collector technology and molten salt heat storage system that leads to a very high annual usage coefficient.
Torresol Energy develops its own R&D activities in two different directions. On the one hand, it researches sophisticated support systems for plant operation and maintenance which are aimed at operational efficiency. On the other, it serves as a field for testing and experimenting with new developments, as an essential preliminary step in the marketing of technological advances required to optimize expenses.
As such, in the research and development areas, there are SENER prototypes installed in the solar fields of the Torresol Energy plants that have been developed for this purpose, with patented pieces of hardware and systems. The Valle 1 and Valle 2 plants have been the operational testing site for the SENERtrough®-2 collector prototype. This prototype was developed and patented by SENER, and boasts a larger size as well as enhanced technical performance and competitiveness compared to the previous SENERtrough® system, which has been installed in the first generation of parabolic trough plants in Spain. SENERtrough®-2 has been used by SENER for the construction of the next generation of solar thermal power plants in South Africa and Morocco. Likewise, a prototype of the new photovoltaic solar tracker (the SNPV tracker) is being installed. SENER is developing this tracker for hybridization with solar thermal technologies, a new trend in the solar market that encourages a global reduction in the price of generated solar power, and whose greatest exemplar is the Noor Midelt plant in Morocco. SENER is following the tendering process of this plant first-hand, due to its global involvement in the Noor Ouarzazate solar complex (since it is part of the turnkey construction consortium of the Noor Ouarzazate I, II and III solar thermal power plants).
Likewise, some prototypes of the HE54 heliostat have been added to the Gemasolar solar field. These have been developed by SENER, have a 50% larger catchment area and new actuation mechanisms, which have enabled this component to be approved for widespread use in the Noor Ouarzazate III central tower project, which SENER is currently building in Morocco.
Torresol Energy has provided its unique experience from the global solar thermal sector to the creation of all this hardware. On the one hand, it is the company at the forefront of applying technological solutions for central tower and heliostat plants, such as the high-concentration receiver system and high-temperature thermal storage in molten salts. On the other, the Torresol Operation and Maintenance Team (TOM) has spent the most time working with and maintaining these technologies, and also shows exemplary efficiency in parabolic trough collector plants. In both cases, TOM has achieved operational excellence and has made several advances to improve efficiency and ensure profitability.