Pumps for Spanish Solar Power Plant

At the end of 2012, the KSB Group delivered pumps for a solar thermal power plant located 60 kilometres south-east of Seville in Andalusia. The units in question were seven process pumps for pumping thermal oil at a drive rating of up to 315 kW, and four canned motor pumps with maximum 45 kW. All the units were built in accordance with the standards and specifications of the American Petroleum Institute (API).

The pumps perform different tasks in the power plant. They provide support for the daily start-up of the solar field, control the level of the thermal oil at temperatures of up to 400°C, protect the solar field from freezing and overheating, and are also used in the oil cleaning process.

The power plant is a Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant. In such plants, the solar energy is focused onto absorber tubes using a mirror, thus heating the thermal oil inside. Downstream of this is a conventional water-steam cycle like those found in fossil-fuelled power plants.

One great advantage offered by this technology is that part of the solar heat can be collected in large thermal salt silos during the day, then sent to the steam cycle at night or to cover peaks in demand. This allows the operators to provide renewable energy to the electrical grid on demand. In some cases, these types of plant can achieve higher efficiency levels than photovoltaic systems. However, they are only economically viable in regions with a lot of sun.

Once it has been commissioned at the end of 2013, this power plant will have an output of 50 megawatts – enough to supply around 50,000 Spanish households with environmentally friendly electricity. The annual electricity production is forecast at over 170 gigawatt hours.

One of the reasons the German pump manufacturer received the contract was its ability to supply the pumps at very short notice. The customer was also impressed by the years of experience KSB has in transporting very hot thermal oils.

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