Thomas Alva Edison in 1931 indicated that: “We are like tenant farmers chopping down the fence around our house for fuel, when we should be using Nature’s inexhaustible sources of energy-sun, wind and tide… I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”
It was obvious that Thomas Alva Edison was worried when he made these comments. Heeding Edison’s words, Bob Lloyd from Australia developed a technology and, together with Neophytos Neophytou, initiated the CY_CSPc_EOS Green Energy project in Cyprus, in order to combat the impact that we are having on the planet and to help the future of humanity.
Their system offers 24/7 solar power using a resource that we are blessed to have in abundance in Cyprus. The project will be a multi-tower Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) System producing a yearly electricity quantity to satisfy the needs of more than 65,000 average homes in Cyprus. Using a state-of-the-art low height tower system (24m) of modular architecture highly suitable for hilly areas found in Cyprus, the 50MW system is to be a combination of about 300 modules each covering an area of 2,400m.
The CY_CSPc_EOS Green Energy Award Winning Project is using Concentrated Solar Thermal technology and offers ultimate cutting-edge, renewable energy technology with storage. Planning, groundwork and technical development is well under way for the creation of the major solar power array to be built near Alassa, 15 minutes north of Limassol.
The project utilises new technology developed in Australia, which has built-in energy storage. The project will be the first of its size and type in the entire Mediterranean basin and will feed electricity directly into the island’s grid. Already operational in Australia and China, this is the most environmentally-friendly and efficient grid-ready solar energy system operating anywhere in the world.
In June 2013, Alfa Mediterranean Enterprises Ltd entered the Project into a competition for a grant under the second call of the NER300 programme, a financing instrument managed jointly by the European Commission, European Investment Bank and Member States. NER300 offers grants to installations of innovative renewable energy projects. The Project was successful in the application, ranked first, and has been granted the amount of €60.2 million after completing all due diligence procedures of the European Commission and European Investment Bank for constructing the project in Cyprus with a total budget of €175 million.
The current renewable energy systems of solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind, deliver intermittent power depending on availability of solar or wind energy. These generation systems do not have the ability to store energy and they rely on alternative sources to safeguard continuity of supply. This cost is significant and mostly not considered when the seemingly lower costs for wind and PV energy are quoted.
Contrary to the above, the CY CSPc EOS Green Energy project’s solar thermal generation system converts the sun’s energy into heat, which subsequently is stored at high temperature in 10-tonne blocks of graphite. Graphite can store large quantities of thermal energy within its crystalline structure for long periods of time (up to a week if required). A stainless-steel heat exchanger tubing system is embedded in the graphite block. When the energy is required, water is pumped through the tubing and is converted to high-temperature steam. The system can drive a steam turbine generator on a continuous basis for a 24-hour supply. It can be stopped and re-started to meet the network operator’s requirements (e.g. for peak power demands). For the network operator, the most important feature of the system is to know exactly how much energy has been stored at the end of each day. The operator can schedule the delivery of power to suit demand and the fluctuations between base and peak load requirements for the next 24 hours.
The CY CSPc EOS Green Energy project’s solar thermal generation system is modular and each module contains 100 to 110 computer-controlled, toroidal, heliostat mirrors. The concave mirrors reflect the sun’s energy into a tower-mounted solar thermal receiver (STR), which is comprised of 10 tonnes of graphite heated to 800°C, for mass storage of the thermal energy. The heat is transferred to an embedded stainless-steel tubing system containing water that is pumped through for conversion to steam. The steam is fed to a steam turbine generator for delivery of 24/7 or peak-load electricity to the grid.
Advantages of the system over current CSP Technologies:
- Lower energy production costs due to additive innovative technologies and solutions.
- 24-hour operation capability through the use of an efficient thermal storage system.
- Overall high efficiency leading to less land requirement per unit of energy produced.
- Module System with storage can be scaled up or down to fit specific energy needs and requirements.
- Low capital costs of installation and ensuring extreme competitiveness on costs.
- Durable material used – extreme long life materials.
- More competitive in production and supply of clean energy than conventional fuels.
- The system has no impact on bird life.
- Easy to install, assembly line approach. All materials readily available locally.
- Benefits to the economies of Cyprus and Europe.
Energy is critical in the transition to a sustainable economy, especially to countries that are fortunate enough to have RES (solar, wind etc.) in abundance.
The CSP/STE solution with proposed thermal storage offers the possibility of a fully dispatchable electrical energy source that can reliably replace emission prone conventional generators. It will also:
- Reduce dependence on costly energy imports, reduce emissions, and hence support the green policies of the EU.
- Provide the EU with a competitive alternative source of energy to boost local economy and industry.
- Develop EU industry with high potential for export leading to new jobs.
- Create the opportunity through the use of competitive prices to transform Cyprus into an exporter of electrical energy, instead of a net importer, when Cyprus is interconnected to the rest of Europe through the Euro-Asia Interconnector (one of the priority projects of the EU).
- Offer supportive competitive ancillary services in combating the intermittent nature of other technology solutions i.e. PV, Wind, etc
- Create the opportunity to contribute to European energy efficiency and security.