Future360.tv travels to Abu Dhabi to visit the largest concentrating solar plant in the world, Shams 1. The 100 MW plant occupies a square mile of the desert, roughly the size of 300 football fields and will power for 20,000 homes.
The technology works by using 250,000 parabolic shaped mirrors to turn sunlight into energy. These collectors concentrate the sun’s heat onto a tube filled with hot oil — that heats water — to produce steam. A gas powered booster heater increases the steam’s temperature to over 500 degrees farenheit. The steam then drives a turbine to produce energy.
As water is a scarce commodity, Shams 1 opted to go for air cooling in the form of huge fans to regulate temperature, rather than water cooling employed at most CSP plants.
$600 million has been invested in the development of Shams 1. The plant will be operational in 2013, and will contribute to reaching Abu Dhabi’s goal of 7 percent renewable energy by 2020.