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Revolutionary Solar Facility Opens in Seville

Wed 12th Oct 2011

A new solar energy plant located just outside Seville has become the the world's first facility which is able to produce electricity at night.

The Gemasolar heliostatic plant utilises a vat of molten salt that reportedly has the ability to keep the facility operational for approximately 15 hours in the absence of sunlight.

When the sun goes down the plant uses it's 2'600 concentrically arranged mirrors, which concentrate solar energy towards a central tank containing the molten nitrate salt. The solar rays then heat the salt to around 900C, which then boils the water around the tank to drive steam turbines and create electricity.

Any excess energy produced during the daylight hours is then stored within the liquefied salt, which retains it's heat energy and can then used for powering the turbines at night, or on overcast days.

The facility will have an expected capacity of around 110 GWh per year, which is sufficient for 25,000 homes and will reduce CO2 emissions by more than 30,000 tons a year.

The plant is not yet operating at it's full capacity of 20 megawatts, but it is expected that it will reach 70% capacity during 2012, and will have the ability to be operational for three times longer than conventional solar facilities at 6'500 hours per year.

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