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Responding to Climate Change 2011

Home | Spotlight on Energy | Cobra Energia Solar energy – without the sol

Solar energy – without the sol

Cobra Energia

A molten salt storage unit which allows for energy to be produced after sunset
A molten salt storage unit which allows for energy to be produced after sunset
About Cobra Energia
Cobra Energía is a branch of the industrial services offered by ACS SCE (Services, Communications and Energy). The ACS Group operates in construction and services globally. It specialises in infrastructure and energy and is committed to the social and economic progress of the countries in which it is present.

The Group’s success comes from being an efficient organisation and having a dynamic and entrepreneurial management structure, evolved from a series of successful mergers and takeovers.

Cobra Energia focuses on the development, construction and subsequent operation and maintenance of renewable energy plants. The company’s products are primarily centred around wind and movable concentrated solar power (CSP). It currently operates three plants of 50MW and molten salt storage of 7.5 hours each at Andasol-1, Andasol-2 and Extresol-2, and has another 200MW under construction (Extresol-2, Extresol-3, Manchasol-1 and Manchasol-2).

Solar power, as the Earth’s most available source energy can provide many times the total current energy demand. Historically limited by the hours the sun shines, in terms of its ability to gather energy, thermosolar plants challenge this. Their form of thermal storage, based on molten salts, continues to generate electricity after sunset.

Concerns over climate change and the current global trend towards the use of clean energy has led the Spanish renewable energy company Cobra Energia to focus on parabolic trough technology with thermal storage.
A 50MW thermosolar power plant can avoid 150 million kilos of carbon dioxide emissions. Successful output from these plants has led to a strong interest in the Group’s international expansion resulting in future proposals of technological implementation in countries with strong solar resource.

CSP uses a system of mirrors in the shape of a parabola with a receiver tube as the focal point for the flow of the oil. The reflection of solar radiation on the mirror increases the fluid temperature. Once it reaches the required temperature (about 400 degrees) the fluid is sent to the steam cycle for power generation and its subsequent evacuation to the grid.

A technological revolution

Ease of despatch makes this energy unique. It includes the ability to predict the amount of energy that will be generated, allowing production at night or at times when solar radiation is not sufficient to raise the temperature of the fluid.

The solar field where the power of the sun’s rays is harvested is twice the size typically found in solar fields. This is to enable excess heat to be transferred to tanks for storage. The molten salt system within the tanks reheats the oil continuously, producing power generation through the steam cycle.

Cobra Energy intends to maintain its commitment to these advances by:

  • continuous technological innovation;
  • managing the needs of its customers;
  • investing in new techniques; and,
  • acquiring new assets to establish renewable energy growth opportunities.

The ability to manage electricity on the basis of the energy produced by natural and renewable sources has been a technological revolution, allowing greater stability to the network and the Spanish electricity system. This contributes positively to the objectives set by the European Union aiming for renewable energy to supply 12% of all EU energy needs and 22% of all electricity needs before 2012.

Furthermore, we should not underestimate the positive socio-economic contribution in generating employment in the construction, operation and maintenance phases. For a single plant, Cobra Energía creates between 500-700 direct jobs during the construction phase and 50 permanent jobs for operation and maintenance once the plant is up and running.

Cobra Energia logo

Cobra Energia

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