Photovoltaic Electricity Generation in Tenerife
April 15, 2009 4 Comments
The Institute of Technology for Renewable Energy (ITER) was set up by the Tenerife Government to research new technology with the aim of providing sustainable energy solutions and a cleaner environment.
Photovoltaic (PV) panels are made up from mono or poly crystallline cells and they harness light (solar energy) and convert into electricity. Until recently photovoltaic cells were used for low energy applications because they were expensive and they required large areas of cells to produce any significant amount of electricity.
Typical applications include parking ticket machines, phone booths, battery charging on RV’s, boats and other off grid applications, like temporary signage and garden lighting. Many petrol stations use their canopies as an ideal mounting point for PV panels. It is now possible to buy roof tiles with inbuilt PV cells for domestic applications.
Technology has moved on and Tenerife has pioneered for PV installations which generate significant amounts of electricity for the Island. There are a number of installations on the east coast of Tenerife, some of which you may have noticed.
The first pilot plant was instigated by ITER and generates 100 kW of electricity, enough for 35 families. This enabled validation of the PV panels as a sustainable energy solution. ITER’s main building also has a 28 kW plant which has been powering everything in the building for the last 10 years.
With the experimentation out of the way ITER embarked on an ambitious project (Solten 1) to construct their first major energy producing PV plant on the Granadilla Industrial Estate. The plant has 130 number 100kW panels and produces 13 mega watts of power.
A second installation (Solten II) consists of three separate installations will produce a further 11 mega Watts of electricity. Both of these projects use ground mounted panels inclined at an angle of 10 degrees and the electricity is put through a series of inverters and transformers so that it can be utilized by the National Grid, which is managed by Unelco – Endesa.
These two major installations generate 24 mega Watts of electricity which is enough to provide a sustainable electrical supply for almost 10,000 families at an average of 2.4 kW per household. It also saves a massive 3.62 million tons of fuel consumption per annum and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 33.6 million tons every year.
The new industrial estate at Granadilla will also be provided with two further installations producing another 4 mega Watts of electricity. Some of the panels will be ground mounted, some will be on the roofs of the new warehouse buildings and others will be mounted on a large pergola which will cover the car park. This installation will reduce the amount of electrical infrastructure which would otherwise have been needed to supply the new industrial park.
We should all be proud that the Tenerife Government is forward thinking and has set an example in producing such large sustainable electricity installations with zero carbon emissions.
ITER are now evaluating a new PV technology known as EUCLIDES which uses parabolic mirrors to concentrate the light on a reduced area of solar cells which will reduce the area and cost of PV solar plants. We do not know the cost of the installations to date but PV cells are expected to have a life of 30 years which is a considerable advantage when calculating payback, not to mention the ecological benefits of clean electricity production.
Read also about Tenerife Wind Farms, another working sustainable energy solution.
Technical information supplied courtesy of the Institiute of Technology for Renewable Energy (ITER).