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Financial restructuring proposal
Innovation

Main areas of research

Abengoa Solar successfully tackles the technological challenges facing the solar industry by increasing the efficiency of converting solar energy into electricity and by reducing costs.
Abengoa Solar has:
  • 20 % of total employees are dedicated to research and development in Seville and Denver (Colorado).
  • Close partnerships with prestigious research institutions like the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the Energy Research Centre, Environmental and Technological Research (CIEMAT), and the Department of Thermodynamics at the German Aerospace Center (DLR), among others.
  • An R&D project evaluation methodology phased to minimize the risks associated with economic and technological R&D and to enhance the chance of project success.
  • Funding of projects via two paths, grants and public subsidies at the national levels, Spain (CENIT), European (PM) and American (DOE), and direct investment by the company.
Abengoa Solar’s principal R & D focus is divided in four tracks:
Solar tower technology

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Abengoa Solar considers tower technology as the key to achieving generation prices that are competitive with conventional fuel sources, mainly because of its enormous potential for cost reduction and higher efficiency.

The development of tower technology differentiates Abengoa Solar and its competitors. It clearly demonstrates how technologically advanced the company is compared to others.

Superheated tower

The company’s main research track in recent years has focused on designing a new generation of solar tower.

In this vein, Abengoa Solar built a pilot superheated tower plant at the Solucar Platform and has operated it successfully since 2009. The 3 MW facility has a solar field of 35 heliostats and a 50 meter tower which houses the experimental receiver. This plant has achieved producing superheated steam at high temperatures, which significantly improves power generation efficiency.

The experience Abengoa Solar gained from three years of operating the first two commercial towers in the world (PS10 and PS20) and the pilot superheated steam plant has produced a second generation, commercially viable tower that also has storage.

Pilot high-temperature tower plant and pilot direct steam generation plant.

Salt Towers

Currently, Abengoa Solar has two R&D salt tower projects. The first project, at the Solucar Platform, seeks to validate new salt tower concepts. The second one, in collaboration with the Department of Energy (DOE), consists of examining the technical and economic viability of a large-scale salt tower.

Abengoa Solar believes that the salt tower technology, except in certain technical conditions, can be a viable solution with a large storage capacity.

Solugas

Abengoa Solar has begun the construction of a pilot plant on the Solucar Platform that seeks to validate a new energy generation concept that combines solar energy with a Brayton cycle.

With this technology, which uses air as the heat transfer fluid, high cycle temperatures can be reached, thus achieving high power generation efficiency.

+Sol

Since 2012, Abengoa collaborates with Rey Juan Carlos University from Madrid in the +Sol R&D project. The purpose of this project is to develop high performance coatings for the CSP generation power plants' receivers, obtaining a better use of the available solar resource. Thus we can increase the thermoelectrical solar energy generated, positioning this type of energy as a solid, attractive and competitive alternative both at a national and international level in comparison to other non-sustainable energy sources.

This project has been granted by Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad under Innpacto program (integrated in the National Program for Public-Private Cooperation) and cofinanced by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). IPT-2012-0382-120000.

Parabolic trough technology

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Abengoa Solar maintains that parabolic trough technology can generate electricity at much more competitive prices due to the new fluids that can work at higher temperatures and the reduced costs of certain key components.

- High temperatures

As one of the principal goals of R&D is to reduce the cost of parabolic trough energy generation, a focus has been the development of advanced heat transfer fluids that operate at a higher temperature than the present fluids, greatly increasing the efficiency of the cycle. This development is linked to the development of some key technology components, such as collectors.

Currently, Abengoa Solar is developing a test loop which will evaluate the use of certain molten salts as the heat transfer fluid. This allows it to operate at 500 º C. This project is being funded by the DOE.

Abengoa Solar is doing critical work with the development of advanced fluids that work at higher process temperatures, improving the cycle efficiency without penalizing other important parameters that could penalize the cost or the plants’ own energy consumption. To support this, collaborative partnership agreements have been created with major research centers in this field worldwide.

- Direct steam generation

Direct steam generation technology in parabolic trough plants eliminates the need for an intermediate heat transfer fluid in the solar field. The water flows through the tubes and absorbs the reflected energy, then goes through a state change from liquid to saturated steam and then to superheated steam.

The main advantage of this technology compared to the existing commercial plants that use thermal oil as the heat transfer fluid is that it eliminates the maximum temperature limitations, thus increasing system efficiency.

Abengoa Solar has the largest parabolic trough direct-steam generation pilot plant, which opened in the spring of 2009 at the Solucar Platform.

Thermal storage

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One of the characteristics of solar thermal generation is the ability to have thermal storage capacity. Dispatchability gives solar thermal a competitive advantage over other renewable sources.

Abengoa Solar considers dispatchability crucial in the integration of renewable sources for generating electricity. To this end, we are researching heat storage in both latent and sensible heat, using molten salts, steam and new materials.

Concentration photovoltaic technology

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In photovoltaics, Abengoa Solar has developed a commercial second generation, high-concentration photovoltaic solution (HCPV) that improves efficiency and is highly competitive in areas of high radiation and high temperatures. Abengoa Solar continues to work in this area to develop high efficiency modules and excellent thermal characteristics.

High concentration photovoltaic system

Housess Project

Abengoa Solar will coordinate the research project, "Housess -Highly Optimized Unit for a Sustainable Enhanced Solar System." This project develops a hybrid thermal-photovoltaic system for large production plants. This system is more efficient, has lower costs than standard solar thermal electricity technology, and is dispatchable.

This project is funded by the National Program for Research Aimed at the Challenges of Society organized by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, file number RTC-2014-2333-3.

Abengoa Solar is part of a consortium involved in the Housess project, including Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, CSIC- Instituto de Ciencias Materiales de Sevilla, and CSIC- Instituto de Ciencias Materiales de Madrid.

Theseus Project

Abengoa Solar will coordinate the research project, "Theseus – Development of low concentration photovoltaic systems with high efficiency solar cells and single axis trackers". The project will develop a low-medium concentration photovoltaic system for utility scale solar plants in areas with high irradiation.

This project is funded by the National Program for Research Aimed at the Challenges of Society organized by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, file number RTC-2014-2304-3.

Abengoa Solar is part of a consortium involved in the Theseus project, including Rioglass Solar, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Universidad de Cádiz, and Instituto de Sistemas Fotovoltaicos de Concentración..

Sigmaplantas Project

Abengoa Solar leads the research project, Sigmaplantas: Innovation in Concentrated Photovoltaic plants and systems in Spain." The project carries out analysis for the improvement of interconnection and operation of the plants and development of performance models for high concentration photovoltaic systems. All of these measures are aimed at achieving Concentrated Photovoltaic commercial plants with lower cost and more reliable operation.

This project is funded by the National Program for Scientific Research, Development and Innovation, 2008-2011, organized by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, file number IPT-2011-1468-920000.

Abengoa Solar is part of a consortium involved in the Sigmaplantas project, including Altran, Ingeteam Energy, Ingeteam Service, Isofotón, ISFOC, Sener, Universidad de Sevilla, Universidad de Castilla La Mancha, Universidad de Jaén, Instituto de Energía Solar de la Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, and CENER.

Sigmatracker Project

Abengoa Solar is participating in the research project, "Sigmatracker: Innovation in the tracking systems of Concentrated Photovoltaic in Spain," which is headed by SENER. The main focus of this project is to develop tracking systems for High Concentrated Photovoltaic based on R+D, innovation, and technology transfer, to offer a product that will be reliable and easy to commercialize at a low cost.

This project is funded by the National Program for Scientific Research, Development and Innovation, 2008-2011, organized by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, file number IPT-2011-1475-920000.

Abengoa Solar is part of a consortium involved in the Sigmatracker project, including Indra Altran, Isofotón, ISFOC, Sener, Fundación Centro Tecnológico del Metal de Castilla La Mancha, Universidad de Castilla La Mancha, CENER, INTA, and Tecnalia.

Sigmamodulos Project

Abengoa Solar leads the research project, "Sigmamodulos: Innovation in the modules of Concentrated Photovoltaic in Spain." This project is designed to develop photovoltaic modules for High Concentrated Photovoltaic based on R+D, innovation, and technology transfer, to offer a product that will be reliable and easy to commercialize at a low cost.

This project is funded by the National Program for Scientific Research, Development and Innovation, 2008-2011, organized by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, file number IPT-2011-1441-920000.

Abengoa Solar is part of a consortium involved in the Sigmamodulos project, including Instituto de Energía Solar (IES), INTA, and Instituto de Sistemas Fotovoltaicos de Concentración (Isfoc)

Tools for the operation and maintenance of solar plants

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Abengoa Solar, in collaboration with Zaragoza University and Insituto de Ciencia de Materiales from Seville, started the Solventa project in 2011. The main objective is to develop equipment to characterize high concentrated solar receivers for any commercial technologies operated by Abengoa. The different solar thermal concentrating technologies commercialized and operated by Abengoa in the domain of concentrated solar technology are parabolic trough and tower. The developed equipment and devices allow the characterization and quantification of properties of the receptors in the operated solar field. Therefore optimization and maximizing their performance, helping to achieve the objectives of reducing costs of energy production from renewable energy. This project has been granted by Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad under Innpacto program and cofinanced by the Fondo Europeo de Desarrollo Regional (FEDER). IPT-2011-1425-9200000.