Near the town of Guadix, where summer temperatures often top 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), the main sound at the site is a whirring of motors to keep the mirrors – mounted on giant steel frames – tracking the sun as the Earth turns.
The Andasol plant, whose name combines the local Andalucia region with the Spanish word for sun – “sol”, provides electricity for up to about 500,000 people from about 620,000 curved mirrors.
The glass alone would cover 1.5 square km (0.6 square miles) – the size of about 210 soccer pitches. Installed electricity generating capacity at this semi-desert site is about 150 megawatts.
There is little sign of life here, at an altitude of 1,100 meters (3,600 feet) near the snow-capped Sierra Nevada range. Some hardy red and yellow flowers grow around the fringes, a few pigeons flap past and workers say that the odd fox lopes by at night.
The environmental benefits of clean energy are judged to outweigh the scar to the landscape from the mirrors, which are visible from space. The land is infertile, there is little wildlife and few people live nearby. The biggest regional city, Granada, with about 240,000 people, is 70 km (45 miles) away.
Andasol was Europe’s first “parabolic trough solar power plant” when its first section opened in 2009 – California has the biggest.
Sunlight bounces off the mirrors to heat a synthetic oil in a tube to a blazing 400 degrees C (752 F). That energy is in turn used to drive a turbine, generating electricity.
At Andasol, some energy also goes into a “heat reservoir” – a tank containing thousands of tonnes of molten salt that can drive the turbines after sundown, or when it is overcast, for about 7.5 hours.
That gets round the main drawback for solar power – the sun does not always shine. The system is very different from better-known rooftop solar panels that transform sunlight directly into electricity……..
Solar power has massive potential – one U.N. study estimated the world’s electricity needs could be generated by harvesting solar power from an area of the Sahara 800 km (500 miles) by 800 km.
And in 2014, a report by the International Energy Agency said the sun could – with a radical shift in investments – be the world’s largest source of electricity by 2050, ahead of fossil fuels, wind, hydro and nuclear.
Capacity just from solar thermal plants like Andasol could expand to 1,000 gigawatts a year from 4 gigawatts at the end of 2013, the agency said…….. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/01/us-climatechange-summit-earthprints-spai-idUSKCN0RV43O20151001
Row threatens Spain’s first nuclear graveyard, The Local, Jul 2015 Spain’s conservative government and the central region of Castilla-La Mancha locked horns Thursday over plans to build the nation’s first-ever temporary storage facility for highly radioactive waste. The country’s nuclear security council on Monday approved a report that gives the green light for the facility to be built near the village of Villar de Cañas in Castilla-La Mancha.
Enresa, the state-owned company responsible for Spain’s nuclear facilities, in 2011 chose the site from a list that included eight other communities which bid to house the nuclear dump.
But on Tuesday the new Socialist government of Castilla-La Mancha moved to block the construction of the facility by approving the expansion of a protected area for birds so it includes land earmarked for the radioactive waste site.
“This will protect an area where endangered species live,” regional government spokesman Nacho Hernando told a news conference. The Socialists took power in the region on July 4th following May local elections, ousting the conservative Popular Party which rules at the national level.
Energy Minister Jose Manuel Soria warned on Thursday that Spain would have to abandon nuclear power if the facility is not built………The government wants to store all the spent fuel produced at Spain’s eight nuclear power stations at the site.
Each power station currently stores the spent fuel which they produce in on site storage pools that are starting to fill up.
Spain has since 2008 stored low to medium-grade nuclear waste at a facility at El Cabril in Cordoba province in the southwest……..
environmental groups including Greenpeace accuse the dump’s supporters of putting money before safety and have lobbied to have the project shelved. http://www.thelocal.es/20150731/row-over-plans-for-spains-first-nuclear-graveyard
Nuclear deal was ‘lost in translation’, Business Day BY SIKONATHI MANTSHANTSHA, OCTOBER 10 2014 ROSATOM, THE STATE-OWNED RUSSIAN NUCLEAR COMPANY, SPENT ON THURSDAY AFTERNOON TRYING TO DISOWN ITS EARLIER CLAIM OF HAVING BEEN AWARDED A CONTRACT TO BUILD SA’S PROPOSED FLEET OF POWER STATIONS.
The company blamed a poor translation for its late September statement in which, quoting South African government officials, it said it had been granted the right to build a fleet of nuclear power stations for SA.
The news that Russia would build nuclear power stations came as a surprise as no announcement had been made by the government that it had begun any tender process to procure the 9.6GW it said it would be actively seeking.
“The wording (in the statement) from Rosatom wasn’t well chosen,” said Viktor Polikarpov, regional vice-president for sub-Saharan Africa. “We have to admit that we worded the statement wrongly. It was lost in translation (from the original Russian).”
In this statement Rosatom quoted Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson. After going to ground and for days being unavailable to confirm the Rosatom claim, the Department of Energy eventually released a statement on its website, which was almost identical to Rosatom’s “translated” statement.
Following this, the department said the statement in no way confirmed SA had reached a deal with Russia. The agreement only envisioned possible future co-operation on nuclear energy issue……….
When Business Day asked for a copy of the co-operation agreement, Mr Polikarpov said the document “is classified … it is not available for public consumption”.
Mr Polikarpov was asked how Rosatom arrived at the $50bn price estimate for the project. After much discussion in Russian with Alex Kirillov, head of marketing in SA, he said this was the estimated cost of Rosatom’s plants……..
Rosatom will apply for a $50bn loan from the Russian government if SA chooses a build, own and operate model, he said……..http://www.bdlive.co.za/business/energy/2014/10/09/nuclear-deal-was-lost-in-translation
.http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2014/09/17/349223674/tiny-spanish-island-nears-its-goal-100-percent-renewable-energy Audio Tiny Spanish Island Nears Its Goal: 100 Percent Renewable Energy NPR, by LAUREN FRAYER September 28, 2014 “….. Spanish island of El Hierro. The ancient island off the west coast of Africa is now a model for the future, within months of running on 100 percent renewable energy, which consists of a mix of wind and hydro-power.
El Hierro, the most remote of Spain’s Canary Islands, is now billing itself as the world’s first energy self-sufficient island that has never been hooked up to a power grid.A Danish island, Samso, is also energy-independent, but was previously hooked up to the Danish grid and didn’t make the change in isolation, like El Hierro.
Because of the topography of the surrounding seabed, El Hierro, an active volcanic island with a population of about 10,000, could never hook up to Spain’s power grid.
Instead, it used big barges to ship in 6,600 tons of diesel fuel — the equivalent of 40,000 barrels of oil — each year, to power electricity generators. It was an expensive, time-consuming and dirty endeavor … until now.
This past summer, El Hierro inaugurated the Gorona del Viento power plant, a $110 million wind and water turbine farm. By the end of this year, the plant will generate all of the island’s energy needs of up to 48 gigawatt hours per year……..
El Hierro is already planning its next energy project. It wants all the island’s cars to be electric by the year 2020.
Solar Radiation Increasing In Spain Red Orbit, June 6, 2013 FECYT – Spanish Foundation for Science and TechnologySolar radiation in Spain has increased by 2.3% every decade since the 1980s, according to a study by researchers from the University of Girona and the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich. This increase is linked to the decreased presence of clouds, which has increased the amount of direct radiation reaching us from the Sun.
“The mean annual G series over Spain shows a tendency to increase during the 1985-2010 period, with a significant linear trend of + 3.9 W m-2 [2.3% more] per decade.” This is the main conclusion of a study published in the magazine ‘Global and Planetary Change‘ by researchers from the University of Girona and the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH, Switzerland).
The season-by-season data show the same “significant” increase in solar radiation impacting the nation: + 6.5 W/m2 per decade during the summer, + 4.1 W/m2 in autumn, + 3.2 W/m2 in spring and + 1.7 W/m2 in winter.
“These data relate to global solar radiation, in other words the increase in direct radiation reaching us from the Sun plus diffuse radiation which is scattered previously by clouds, atmospheric gases and aerosols,” explains one of the authors, Arturo Sánchez-Lorenzo, currently a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Girona…… According to the scientists, this increase may also go hand in hand with more ultraviolet rays, an excess of which presents a health risk, potentially leading to skin cancer.
More global brightening
The increase in global solar radiation is a phenomenon that has been observed in other parts of the world for almost 30 years, especially in developed countries, and it has been named “global brightening”. The fall in the diffuse component has also been observed in Central European and Eastern countries.
The team behind the study has not yet analyzed the solar radiation data for 2011-2013 provided by the Spanish State Meteorological Agency, but the data from other European weather stations suggests that this brightening is still on the rise.
“Studies such as these may be of interest to the solar energy industry, especially in countries like Spain, where not only do we already have a lot of direct solar radiation but now we are getting even more,” affirms one of the other authors, Josep Calbó, who is a professor at the University of Girona. http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1112866837/solar-radiation-increasing-spain-060613/
Russia’s natural resource oversight body to keep mum on catastrophes from now on Anna Kireeva, Charles Digges, 16/08-2012 […] Now, all information requests sent to Rosprirodnadzor’s press service will be subject to scouring by the special commission before it is released to the public – a decision greeted by some of Kirillov‘s subordinates as anti-democratic and needlessly complex.
Rosprirodnadzor is one of the Russian government’s most important sources of information about environmental conditions in Russia
How to manipulate the Internet by arclight2011 1 September 12, Below, are quotes from some articles that are looking at issues of internet blocking and manipulation of searches etc..
I live in the UK, and recently discovered that Uk government requests to access peoples personal data was much lower than other countries. This was because laws passed last year allow authorities to hack anyone of interest…..
they do not need to apply to the courts any more, they have to put them on the recently renamed DOMESTIC EXTREMIST DATABASE (DED) office. The DED now have no name so as to deter data protection requests from a concerned public. As you will see below, other countries also censure/manipulate data to suit local needs and some countries are more open than others..
I wanted to cover censorship and manipulation in Japan and the USA after the Gulf Oil Spill and Fukushima tragedy but the PR company (OGILVY and MATHER, WPP) that smoothed over the disasters would need its own article.
For now here are some examples of how the manipulation works.
Irradiated Russian region moves to manipulate its Internet image Charles Digges, 29/07-2011[…] Authorities in Chelyabinsk have announced that they will pay the equivalent of $13,000 in order to try to alter the region’s “online footprint” so that people looking for information on Chelyabinsk on the internet read “positive or neutral evaluations of the ecological situation” there. Continue reading
Fire Shuts Nuclear Plant in Spain , WSJ, By ILAN BRAT, 15 June 12, An electrical fire forced a shutdown of Spain’s Almaraz I nuclear plant, the country’s nuclear safety authority said Friday. One worker was injured in the fire in electrical equipment outside the building housing the reactor in western Spain.
The Nuclear Safety Council said the fire posed no threat for the general public or the environment…. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303822204577468610332293428.html
Activists fly over nuclear plant in Spain http://gulfnews.com/news/world/other-world/activists-fly-over-nuclear-plant-in-spain-1.1032248 Stunt designed to prove lack of security at the plant AFP June 6, 2012 Madrid Two Greenpeace activists flew over Spain’s oldest nuclear power plant on Tuesday in a motorised paraglider to draw attention to the alleged lack of security at the facility, the organisation said.
The activists threw smoke bombs on the roof of the building that houses the reactor of the Garona nuclear plant located near the northern city of Burgos from the paraglider, which carried a banner that read “Garona close now”.
In February Spain’s conservative government extended by five years the operating licence of Garona, which began operating in 1971. “With this action Greenpeace reiterates that there is no economic or energetic reason that justifies the extension of Garona’s licence,” Continue reading
Solar power station in Spain works at night Yahoo Finance 19 Mar 12, A unique thermosolar power station in southern Spain can shrug off cloudy days: energy stored when the sun shines lets it produce electricity even during the night.
The Gemasolar station, up and running since last May, stands out in the plains of Andalusia.
From the road between Seville and Cordoba, one can see its central tower lit up like a beacon by 2,600 solar mirrors, each 120 square metres (28,500 square feet), that surround it in an immense 195-hectare (480-acre) circle.
“It is the first station in the world that works 24 hours a day, a solar power station that works day and night!” said Santago Arias, technical director of Torresol Energy, which runs the station. The mechanism is “very easy to explain,” he said: the panels reflect the suns rays on to the tower, transmitting energy at an intensity 1,000 times higher than that of the sun’s rays reaching the earth.
Energy is stored in a vat filled with molten salts at a temperature of more than 500 degrees C (930 F). Those salts are used to produce steam to turn the turbines and produce electricity.
It is the station’s capacity to store energy that makes Gemasolar so different because it allows the plant to transmit power during the night, relying on energy it has accumulated during the day.
“I use that energy as I see fit, and not as the sun dictates,” Arias explained.
As a result, the plant produces 60 percent more energy than a station without storage capacity because it can work 6,400 hours a year compared to 1,200-2,000 hours for other solar power stations, he said.
“The amount of energy we produce a year is equal to the consumption of 30,000 Spanish households,” Arias said, an annual saving of 30,000 tonnes of CO2.
Helped by generous state aid, renewable energies have enjoyed a boom in Spain, the world number two in solar energy and the biggest wind power producer in Europe, ahead of Germany. … http://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/solar-power-station-spain-works-020347254.html
US and Spain discuss cleanup of nuclear radiation, PhysOrg.com, February 5, 2012 The United States is offering technical assistance to Spain to clean up land contaminated by radiation from undetonated nuclear bombs that accidentally fell on the area in 1966, Continue reading
Spain ageing nuclear plant may stay open: report, By Martin Roberts; MADRID | Mon Jan 2, (Reuters) – Spain’s incoming centre-right government may allow an ageing nuclear plant to stay open beyond a 2013 deadline for closing set by its Socialist predecessors, a newspaper report said on Monday.
Environmentalist groups have protested that Spain is out of step with countries like Germany, which closed seven older nuclear plants after Japan’s Fukushima disaster last year and plans to shut the rest within a decade.
In 2009, then-premier Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero ordered the Garona plant to close in 2013, by which point it will have been in operation two years more than a benchmark 40-year lifespan…. Running nuclear plants is profitable, however, and in their unsuccessful election
campaign the Socialists proposed introducing a windfall tax on them.
Spanish voters are generally opposed to nuclear power – which provides about 21 percent of the country’s electricity – and no new plants are planned…….
New nuclear waste dump sparks controversy in Spain Olive Press, JANUARY 1, 2012 RAJOY’S new government has announced a €700 million nuclear waste dump for a village near Madrid, provoking mixed reaction from residents and green groups…
..Those in nearby villages, however, are considering taking legal action against the
plan. Greenpeace are also critical, saying the project is likely to cost nearly three times what the government has proposed, and that transporting waste to the site will be dangerous.
The plan was originally voted in 2004, but the location decision was delayed by Zapatero’s government amid protests….
Spanish nuclear power stations have accumulated an estimated 6,700 tonnes of spent fuel in cooling ponds and will run out of room to store it from 2013.
Spanish voters are generally opposed to nuclear power
Spain names site for delayed nuclear waste dump By Martin Roberts MADRID, Dec 30 (Reuters) – Spain’s incoming centre-right government named a site on Friday for a nuclear waste dump, a decision that had been long delayed by its Socialist predecessors amid protests by residents and regional authorities. Continue reading
Spain Launches Fund To Promote Energy Efficiency And Renewables In 10 Regions, by: Eurasia Review, July 2, 2011 The European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Spanish Energy Saving and Diversification Institute (IDAE) have concluded a finance agreement to launch a JESSICA holding fund designed to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in an innovative use of EU structural funds. …… http://www.eurasiareview.com/spain-launches-fund-to-promote-energy-efficiency-and-renewables-in-10-regions-02072011/
Small-scale renewable energy is more accessible to new entrants compared with the forward purchase of huge amounts of baseload generation from burning fossil fuels, which is the routine business of big utilities.
Change so far is happening slowly and from a tiny base but the cost of small-scale renewable technologies is falling.
Micro-Power Presents Slow-Burn Threat to Utilities Planet Ark: 27-May-11 SPAIN AND U.K. : Martin Roberts and Gerard Wynn A wide rollout of small-scale renewable energy poses a long-term challenge to utilities as households switch to home generation and the supply market opens, executives at green specialists and independents say. Continue reading
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