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Transmission Line Under the Mediterranean to Supply Italy with Clean Power

It seems that more and more large, renewable energy projects are being announced each day. The most recent is a giant solar power plant that will be built by Top Oilfield Services, a Tunisian oil and gas engineering company, and Nur Energie, a British solar firm. The project, called TuNur, will consist of a two gigawatt concentrated solar power (CSP) park.

CSP works by thousands of heliostatic mirrors focussing the sun’s rays onto a central tower filled with fluid that then heats up and drives the turbines.  The plant will be situated in the Tunisian desert with the electricity being transported under the Mediterranean to Italy in a new, low-loss transmission line. The plan is to supply clean power to 700,000 European homes by 2016.

Many Solar enthusiasts dislike CSP due to the high costs, especially now that the prices of photovoltaics (PVs) have plummeted. Even Google has moved the focus of its energy fund from CSP to PV. Another criticism of CSP is the large useage of water it requires for cleaning the mirrors. Water, which in desert areas (the sort of places CSP plants are built), is a very scarce resource. However New technologies are being developed that use alternative cleaning methods. “The project has been designed to reduce water requirements to a bare minimum by using a dry, air-based cooling system (for cleaning).”

I for one remain a firm supporter of CSP, as are Torresol, who last week announced their plan to spend $5 billion in CSP projects in the US, Spain and the Middle East. I believe it holds the best hopes for supplying large amounts of cheap, clean electricity. PV may be fine for small levels of power, but to be an addition to the grid, CSP has, as of yet, no equal in the solar sector.

By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com



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