The Gemasolar Power Plant in southern Spain looks like a giant art installation, but it’s really the world’s first solar power station that can actually generate enough electricity to last the night.
Stretching across 185 hectares of land, this incredible power station boasts of 2,650 heliostats (solar panels) arranged symmetrically in concentric circles. The heliostats reflect 95% of solar light and heat onto a giant receiver at the centre of the structure, a molten nitrate salt tank. The salt tanks heat up to 900 degrees Celsius, which creates steam that drive the station’s turbines. The energy produced by the plant is expected to be as much as 110 GWh/year, enough to power up to 25,000 Andalucian homes.
What sets the Gemasolar plant apart from the other existing solar plants, is its ability to store heat that drives the steam turbines up to 15 hours overnight or during periods without sunlight. With its location near Seville, one of Europe’s sunniest areas, its regular supply of sunshine allows the facility to operate for a minimum of 270 days per year of guaranteed electrical generation. That’s up to three times more energy than what other renewable energy sources can produce.
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