Abu Dhabi’s Torresol $5 Billion Solar Plans Include US

torresol tunisia solar energy CSPTorresol – a joint venture between Spain’s SENER and Abu Dhabi’s Masdar, plans to invest up to $5 billion building 6 Giga Watts of concentrated solar-thermal power (CSP) projects over the next three years in the deserts of the Middle East North Africa region, Spain, and the US. Although the sites are not yet named, at least one of the plants will be in Abu Dhabi.

Initially developed for Middle East desert conditions by the Israeli engineer Luz, and resurrected (Luz Rises Again as BrightSource) as BrightSource, which has huge projects in the US now, this kind of solar is now comparatively more expensive than photovoltaic solar, for the first time.

This is due to the drop in the cost of refining polysilicon and the intense competition among PV solar panel manufacturers.

The company (‘torre’ is Spanish for tower, and ‘sol’ for sun) says it is optimistic in getting the funding for its ambitious solar project pipeline. “Despite the ongoing economic troubles facing much of the world”, says Torresol President Enrique Sendagorta, “we believe we can achieve our goals as foreign banks are becoming more interested in financing solar power projects because it is a winning investment”.

The first of the Desertec solar projects all use CSP, in Morocco, and in Algeria, and just today – in Tunisia.

But concentrating solar power – CSP – uses mirrors to reflect sun onto towers that hold a fluid that heats up in the sun to make steam to drive turbines.

That means that only this kind of (thermal) energy has the potential to supply solar that can be dialed up and down as needed, and to supply power into the evening hours, because you can add storage capacity to a thermal plant by storing the heat in a molten salt for use later. The first Masdar/SENER Torresol project in Switzerland Gemasolar can run 15 hours a day.

So, because energy storage is an increasingly vital aspect of renewable power, as we add more of it, the lifetime utility of a CSP plant is actually better, even with a lower cost initially to build a solar PV project.

(Related: Which Solar Technologies Will Have the Most Investment Appeal?)

“We are developing a pipeline of projects in Spain, the U.S., and in the Middle East North Africa region,” Sendagorta told the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi. “The investment would range between $3.5 billion and $5 billion.”

Part of the funding is likely to come from the oil-rich and now very eco-friendly Abu Dhabi, which through its Masdar Group owns a 40% share (to SENER’s 60%) of Torresol.

Read more on solar energy in the Middle East:

Masdar Opens First Baseload Solar in Spain – Gemasolar
BrightSource Solar Plant to Make More Energy than Fossil Fuels
Masdar Visionary Tells the Untold Story 

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5 thoughts on “Abu Dhabi’s Torresol $5 Billion Solar Plans Include US”

  1. Mei K says:

    This photo shows the solar energy demonstration facility of BrightSource in Dimona, Israel. Not only there’s no appropriate credit, it is in an article about Abu Dhabi… You need to correct this.

  2. guillermo says:

    reading about your mission I just saw that you guys specialize on the Middle-East. I therefore understand your emphasis better now. Still, I think its sad that you dont put more emphasis on the ones that are engineering and managing this technology and just on the ones throwing the billions on it. I think its unfair and is obviously too biased.

    1. Can you give us some ideas of projects that are not biased?

  3. guillermo says:

    why do you put the emphasis solely on Abu Dhabi and Masdar (especially in the october article) when the company is first of all a JV, 60% owned by the spanish egineering firm SENER making it effectively their business, and it is obviously a spanish technology considering the engineering capabilities of this JV are SENER’s and its only competitor Abengoa already has 3 of these in operation in spain?

    I have the feeling you are emphasizing Abu Dabi to add excitement to your article by indirectly claiming that what was once an oil exporter is able to be so innovative in solar tech. By doing so you marginalize the efforts of spainish companies, government and universities to develop these technologies and their market in the last years.

    1. You are right. Our emphasis is on the Middle East.

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