Gemasolar, the most innovative solar thermal plant in the world, owned by Torresol Energy – a joint venture between the engineering and technology group SENER and Masdar – has been photographed from the air by the zero-fuel airplane Solar Impulse, that landed in Seville (Spain) on June 23rd, days before completing its historic bid to circumnavigate the globe without fossil fuels. On July 11th, shortly after taking off from Seville en route to Cairo (Egypt), Solar Impulse flied over the solar plant to capture its emblematic image in some spectacular pictures.
The interest of Solar Impulse pilots on Gemasolar, a global icon for sustainability, is aimed by the common goal of these two innovative projects to propel solar power in the world. In fact, both are pioneering systems that can storage solar power and keep working non-stop, thanks to this storage capacity
Gemasolar is a pioneering plant that applies, in a commercial scale, central tower receiver and heat storage technology using molten salts, as well as numerous technological solutions developed by SENER, a leader in the global Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) market. Thanks to its high temperature storage system, the plant can continue producing electricity for 15 hours without sunlight, meaning it can generate power non-stop and respond to the grid’s demand, which has been traditionally a weak point of renewable energy. Currently operated by Torresol Energy, it has been running since 2011 and its results exceed expectations. Today, it is an emblematic facility in the renewable energy sector, recognized with international awards. At the same time, it has been the image of prestigious international events.
For is part, Solar Impulse is a plane covered in 17,000 photovoltaic cells that power the vehicle's electric motors directly, or charge its lithium-ion batteries, which sustain the aircraft during the night hours. It is the only airplane of perpetual endurance, able to fly day and night on solar power, without a drop of fuel. To demonstrate the capabilities of solar power, the plane has attempted the First Round-The-World Solar Flight. (Update on July 27th: this trip was completed to an end on July 25th in Abu Dhabi, the same city where it began in March 2015).
After seeing the spectacular images taken from the plane, Gemasolar Plant’s Manager, Raúl Mendoza, highlighted “the common spirits of two engineering projects that have amazed the world, both technological milestones powered entirely by the energy of the Sun.” And he added: “As Gemasolar has been done since its commercial operation, in 2011, Solar Impulse is also proving to the world that it is possible to rely in solar power for our daily activities. The future will go hand in hand with renewable energy, as long as we keep developing reliable and successful technologies to make this energy an economically competitive option and, therefore, a real and sustainable alternative to traditional power sources”.