The Italian energy company Enel has opened in Sicily, near Siracusa, a thermodynamic solar plant named Archimedes and equipped with innovative technology.

This solar power plant consists of 30,000 square meters of parabolic mirrors that capture and reflect the sunlight onto 5,400 feet of tubes in which circulates a heat transfer fluid. The resulting heat energy produces steam to drive the turbines of combined cycle gas/steam when the solar power station is connected.

According to Enel, the Archimedes central is the first worldwide to use molten salt as heat transfer fluid also remains the world’s first to be integrated with a gas power plant to combined cycle.

The solar plant with a capacity of 5 megawatts will allow Enel to avoid the annual release of 3,250 tonnes of CO2 while reducing gas consumption required to power the turbines of combined cycle power plant, whose power is of 752 megawatts.

Archimedes was able to collect and store for several hours in the hot sun before using it to generate electricity at night or on cloudy days. With this method, the limit on this source of renewable energy is becoming obsolete: the fact of not being able to use it when nature makes it available.

The solar thermal technology that uses a series of parabolic mirrors in the objective of concentrating sunlight onto tubes of a fluid. The heat collected in special containers, can be used to power a steam turbine. The high temperature steam then exerts pressure on the turbine to produce electricity

The molten salt composed of a mixture of sodium and potassium have the capacity to store heat for prolonged periods.

The technology used in the Priolo plant has been developed by Enel.

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