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From Theory to Practice: Study Trip in Spain Inspires Future Sustainable Energy Engineers

Published Jun 07, 2024

Last week, our Large-Scale Solar Power course (MJ2500) students had the extraordinary opportunity to visit some of the most innovative concentrated solar power (CSP) and photovoltaic (PV) plants near Malaga, Spain. The journey was an eye-opener, combining education with real-world application, and highlighted the future of renewable energy. Here are some highlights from the trip, which we hope will inspire more students to join us next year!

Gemasolar CSP Plant (20 MW), Seville
Commissioned in 2011, the Gemasolar CSP tower system boasts 2650 two-axis tracked heliostats spread across 185 hectares. These large mirrors focus sunlight onto a central receiver, heating molten salts to temperatures between 290°C and 565°C. The stored thermal energy is then used to generate electricity, even when the sun isn't shining. This plant is known for its impressive record of continuous operation, running 24/7 for 36 days straight in 2013!

La Africana CSP Plant (50 MW), Córdoba
La Africana uses parabolic trough technology with concave mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto receiver tubes filled with thermal oil. This heat is transferred to molten salts, which store the energy until it’s needed to power a steam cycle and generate electricity. This system allows for energy generation during peak demand periods, making it a crucial player in sustainable energy supply.

La Castilleja PV Plant (10 MW), Córdoba
The visit also included a stop at La Castilleja, a fixed tilt PV system, and an R&D project featuring 2-axis PV tracking systems. This plant exemplifies the rapid advancements in PV technology, demonstrating how solar power is becoming more efficient and cost-effective.

Special thanks to our course organizers, Rafael Guedez  and Salvatore Guccione , for making this trip possible.

We look forward to seeing you on our next adventure!

Photo by Salvatore Guccione: Gemasolar CSP Plant
Photo by Salvatore Guccione: Gemasolar CSP Plant
Group photo at Gemasolar CSP Plant
La Africana CSP Plant
Photo by Dominik Schuster: La Africana CSP Plant
Photo by Dominik Schuster: La Africana CSP Plant
Photo by Dominik Schuster: La Africana CSP Plant
Group photo at La Africana CSP Plant