Highlighting the key role Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) is expected to play in the European renewable energy mix, four CSP projects received a combined award of over €203 million from the €1.2 billion earmarked for 23 renewable energy demonstration projects by the European Commission in December 2012, under the first call for proposals for the NER300 funding programme.
Helios Power, a 50.76 MW CSP project to be implemented in Cyprus, was awarded €46.6 million. This project will use Stirling dishes to harness Cyprus’s abundant solar energy and generate electricity to be supplied into the national grid, easing pressure on the grid in the summer, when demand is at its peak. This dish generates more electricity for less installed capital and within a smaller footprint than competing technologies, and the innovative nature of the technology made the project eligible for consideration for NER300 funding. The project, which will consist of 16,920 power dish units supplying a total of 115,936,000 kWh per annum, will be implemented on a plot of over 2 million square metres near Larnaca in the south of Cyprus.
The second CSP project to receive NER300 funding is the Maximus project located in the Florina region of north-west Greece. This project will also be supplied with Stirling dishes and will use 25,150 dishes with 3 kW of rated power capacity each. The plant is composed of 37 small modular plants located on different land plots, which will be connected to the grid via a single connection point. This project has been awarded €44.6 million and will have a total installed capacity of 75 MW.
Also in Greece, this time on the island of Crete, the Minos CSP project has been awarded €42 million. The project, which will be located on a site of approximately 143 hectares near the existing Atherinolakos power plant, will use a central tower system based on innovative superheated steam technology to produce 50 MW of electricity. No storage system is envisaged for the project, which will use a conventional diesel boiler to supply back-up energy.
Finally, Spain’s PTC50-Alvarado project was awarded €70 million. Like the Minos project in Greece, this project also involves a central tower plant using superheated steam. The plant, which will be located 15 km south east of the Spanish city of Badajoz, will have a capacity of 50 MW and will produce electricity by means of a large field of heliostats that reflect solar radiation onto a solar thermal receiver mounted on the central tower. The plant includes a high capacity molten nitrate salt thermal energy storage system and integrates hybridization with biomass and natural gas, in order to improve manageability and overall efficiency.
Like other NER300 projects, these CSP projects will be co-financed with revenues obtained from the sale of emission allowances from the new entrants' reserve (NER) of the EU Emissions Trading System. NER300 projects cover a wide range of renewable technologies from bioenergy (including advanced biofuels) and geothermal power to wind power, ocean energy and distributed renewable management (smart grids). These projects will have a collective impact on renewable energy production in Europe amounting to about 10 TWh. Another aspect of these projects, and one that is potentially more important for the long-term development of renewable energy in Europe, is the fact that they aim to successfully demonstrate cutting-edge technologies that will push the technological level of the renewable energy sector in Europe forward and substantially increase renewable energy production across the EU.
NER300 is implemented by the European Commission with the collaboration of the European Investment Bank (EIB) in the project selection, the sale of 300 million carbon allowances from the EU Emissions Trading System and the management of revenues.