A biomass-solar hybrid plant begins operations in Spain

By Erin Voegele | January 22, 2013

A unique 22.5 MW hybrid biomass-thermosolar power plant has begun operations in Les Borges Blanques, Spain. The facility was developed by Abantia and Comse Emte and features a MAN Diesel & Turbo SE turbo generator train. 

According to information released by Abantia and Comse Emte, the facility combines solar power generation and biomass-fired power generation in a way that allows for continuous electrical production.

While traditional solar power facilities need to employ expensive energy storage techniques to ensure continuous operation in all weather conditions, the biomass hybrid configuration has eliminated that need with this plant. A statement issued by MAN Diesel & Turbo explains that whenever there is not enough direct sunlight to generate solar power, the facility’s biomass power generation capacity is brought online, enabling the continuous production of electricity.

The biomass portion of the facility takes in forestry waste as its primary feedstock. However, it can also be fueled in part with energy crops and agricultural residues.

The facility is located on a 70 hectare (173 acre) site, which includes two fields of parabolic troughs, a type of solar thermal collector. The parabolic troughs absorb solar energy, heating a thermal fluid to 400 degrees Celsius. According to information released by MAN Diesel & Turbo, the heated fluid is then routed to the power plant block. When there is no sunlight, the power plant block is used to produce steam.

Electricity is produced using a MARC-R high-pressure steam turbine. “The MARC-R is an interim heating turbine with two casings,” said Simon Radermacher, a MAN Diesel & Turbo sales engineer, in a statement. Constructed out of a MARC 2 backpressure turbine and a MARC 6 condenser turbine, the MARC-R forms part of the MARC, short for Modular Arrangement Concept. “The construction increases thermodynamic efficiency, thereby enabling us to enhance the overall efficiency of the power plant considerably,” Radermacher continued.