Enel starts up its Archimede plant in world first for CSP

Italian utility giant Enel has started up its Archimede concentrating solar power (CSP) plant in Priolo Gargallo, near Syracuse, Sicily.

The 5MW demonstration plant is the first in the world to use molten salts rather than synthetic oil as the heat transfer fluid.

The facility consists of both a combined-cycle gas facility and a parabolic trough CSP plant, as well as storage using tanks of molten salt, which allow continuous operation throughout the night and during cloudy weather conditions.

The technology used in the Priolo plant was developed by Italian government agency Enea and Archimede Solar Energy, a joint venture between Angelantoni Industrie and Siemens Energy, which has a 45% stake in the venture.

Plans are in the pipeline to begin producing solar receivers using the molten salt technology from early next year.

The plant will have an annual production capacity of approximately 75,000 solar receivers, which will later be increased to 140,000 per year.

Enel says the plant is called Archimede because of its rows of huge parabolic mirrors used to capture the sun's rays, which bear comparison to the "burning mirrors" Archimedes is said to have used to set fire to Roman ships besieging Syracuse during the Punic War of 212 BC.