MAN's steam turbine generates power at Abu Dhabi’s Shams 1 solar plant

April 1 2013 - TI Staff

The 100-MW solar thermal power plant Shams 1 was officially launched in Abu Dhabi recently. The heart of the plant, a steam turbine supplied by MAN Diesel & Turbo, will be used to drive a generator. The eco-friendly electricity produced by this would be enough to serve roughly 57,000 German households.

The dimensions realized at Shams 1 have set new standards. Offering a gross output of 125 MW, MAN´s steam turbine is said to be the largest ever built for a solar thermal power station. The custom-made machinery weighs 220 tons and was constructed in Oberhausen, Germany, having arrived on site in May 2011.

Ole Hansen, Vice President Steam Turbines at MAN Diesel & Turbo said the only element in the plant that can convert energy is the turbine-generator train. "It is therefore especially important to use a highly-efficient steam turbine in order to generate as much electricity as possible from the heat available."

The underlying principle of solar thermics is essentially different from that of photovoltaics. Whereas solar cells convert the sun´s radiant energy directly into electricity, the parabolic mirrors used in solar thermal power stations do not in themselves constitute electrical components, but form part of a trough technology.

"In the case of solar thermal power plants, the energy efficiency from sunlight to electricity is at least three times higher than with photovoltaics," confirms Ole Hansen, which is why steam turbine technology is particularly suited for larger plants.

With this order from Shams Power Company, a joint venture between Masdar, Total and Abengoa Solar, MAN Diesel & Turbo has been able to expand its know-how in the field of solar thermal applications. This is the fifth solar thermal power station to be equipped with MAN´s turbine technology, the world´s first solar thermal-biomass hybrid power plant having recently gone on stream in Les Borges Blanques (Spain) at the end of 2012.

Read more about the solar plant in Abu Dhabi’s $600m solar plant to produce 100 MW power per year