In a worldwide first, Enel Green Power (EGP) has announced plans to bolt a 17MW parabolic-trough CSP system onto its existing PV-geothermal hybrid plant in the US state of Nevada.
EGP, which has emerged as one of the world’s great experimenters with hybrid clean-energy systems, opened its 33MW Stillwater geothermal plant in 2009 in Fallon, western Nevada. Several years later it added a 26MW PV array to the site -- its first solar project in North America.
But the Italy-based company will take things a step further with the addition of the CSP plant, whose heat EGP claims will enhance the geothermal-based generation in addition to contributing its own electricity production.
The power produced will be sold to NV Energy via EGP’s existing 20-year PPA with the utility.
Separately, EGP says it will build a small plant comprising PV modules, a mini-wind turbine and a co-generation system in Chile that will produce electricity and hot water for a village school.
Despite EGP’s partial ownership (alongside Sharp and STMicroelectronics) of the 3Sun PV panel factory in Sicily, and its claims several years ago to be considering building several CSP projects in southern Europe, the company’s push into solar energy has been modest compared to wind and even geothermal, and its embrace of CSP has come even slower.
Solar accounted for less than 5% of EGP’s nearly 9GW of installed renewable capacity at the end of 2013.
At present, EGP’s only CSP plant appears to be the Archimede project commissioned in 2010 in Italy, which is integrated with a combined-cycle gas facility.
EGP, which has warned its investors that 2014 “will be a challenging [year]” due to unfavourable political and economic conditions in its core European markets, has heavily pivoted its focus to emerging markets, and particularly Latin America, where it has numerous renewables projects on the boil in Mexico, Brazil and Chile.
However, the company continues to develop, build and acquire projects in the US, such as the 150MW Origin wind farm in Oklahoma, which recently broke ground and is due for completion in late 2014.