Israel building world’s tallest solar tower 

Posted: January 6, 2017 by oldbrew in Energy, government
Tags: , ,

Solar towers in California [image credit:]

Solar towers in California [image credit:]

It may sound good but California’s Mojave project showed projects like this are not always exactly what they may seem. Scorched birds brought bad publicity for example.

The world’s tallest solar tower is currently being constructed in Israel’s Negev desert, the latest example of the Jewish state’s newfound emphasis on renewable energy, The Tower reports. The tower, which will be 250 meters (820 feet) tall, is encircled by around 50,000 mirrors, called heliostats.

Unlike the more common photovoltaic solar panels, which convert sunlight directly into power, the heliostats reflect the sunlight into the tower to heat a boiler, which will produce the steam to spin a turbine to generate electricity. With a taller tower, more mirrors can be placed in a smaller area to reflect the necessary amount of sunlight to run the turbine. 

There are only about a dozen solar tower fields around the world, including one in California with three towers, each of which is 140 meters (460 feet) tall, surrounded by 170,000 heliostats.

The tower is just one of three power plots in Ashalim, with each plot using a different form of solar technology. The second plot will use technology that stores solar energy for use when the sun is not visible, and the third plot will have traditional photovoltaic solar panels. A fourth plot is also planned.

“It’s the most significant single building block in Israel’s commitment to CO2 reduction and renewable energy,” Eran Gartner, chief executive of Megalim Solar Power Ltd., which is building part of the solar project, told the Associated Press.

The country’s goal is to have 10 percent of its energy generated from renewable sources by 2020, up from the current 2.5 percent. It is expected that the solar project at Ashalim will generate a comparable amount of electricity to established large-scale solar fields in California and Chile. 

Israel’s Electricity Authority says that the three plots are projected to generate 310 megawatts of power, which would be enough for 130,000 households—around five percent of Israel’s population.

“Israel has a potential to be a sunshine superpower” because of its technological expertise and yearlong sunshine in the desert, Leehee Goldenberg, the director of the department of economy and environment for the Israel Union for Environmental Defense, told the AP.

However, Goldenberg asserted, “Israel’s government hasn’t really been pushing to reach its small goals regarding solar energy.” But Israel’s Finance Ministry said that the cost of generating solar energy has been decreasing, and so if the Ashalim field is successful, it could spur similar projects elsewhere.

Source: Israel Building World’s Tallest Solar Tower | The Tower

  1. Curious George says:

    I am beginning to like Obama.

  2. Graeme No.3 says:

    Did they remember to install the natural gas pipeline?
    All these ‘stored heat’ projects need gas to supply heat first thing in the morning when the sun is just above (or even in winter below) the horizon.
    And that 310MW – divided by 3 it comes out about the same as other plants of this type, but that is the maximum output. For operation 24 hours a day you should divide the ‘capacity’ by 3 or more.

  3. oldbrew says:

    ‘Tadiran Batteries… is supplying its proprietary TLI series-based rechargeable batteries to drive the heliostat motors and power device communications.’

  4. Graeme No.3 says:

    I do not see any reference to heat storage so it can only generate during the day. By my calculations, assuming maximum output 8 hours a day 365 days a year for 25 years then the cost will be $96 per MWh or £78. Obviously the real cost will be much higher.

    obviously the batteries are to orientate the mirrors whenever the plant isn’t producing power e.g. at dawn.

    I would like to know how they get 310MW out of 261MW installed capacity.

  5. oldbrew says:

    Graeme: you missed this…

    ‘The second plot will use technology that stores solar energy for use when the sun is not visible’

    They will use molten salt like other solar plants as it holds heat well at high temperatures.

  6. Graeme No.3 says:

    In which case reduce the output to a maximum of 40MW as the output has to be collected in the hours of sunshine, which even in Israel aren’t going to be a majority. Also, as the heat in the molten salt is used up overnight the temperature will drop. So first thing in the morning when everybody wants their breakfast there will be little available heat in reserve and the sun won’t be delivering any, hence the need for gas heating to generate electricity.
    I am sure you know this, but for casual readers who think that solar heat means no CO2 emissions a dose of reality. They might then google, say, Ivanpah and gas usage and discover they used so much gas that they were in danger of being called a gas plant. No problem, gullible politicians and bureaucrats changed the definition.

  7. Graeme No.3 says:

    Oh, from Spanish experience the cost of the electricity will be around £220 per MWh, and you thought Hinkley Point was expensive starting at £95.

  8. A C Osborn says:

    What I find amazing is that the normally pragmatic Israelis would fall for both the need to reduce CO2 and that this is a good way to do it.

  9. oldbrew says:

    The 310 MW figure may be a mistake. Other reports I’ve seen say 110 MW or 121 MW.

    Construction cost is estimated at 500 million euros.