Sunny Spain makes solar gain

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Europe's first commercial concentrating solar power plant has opened near Seville in Spain.

The plant, which uses 624 moveable mirrors to focus the sun's light on the top of a tower containing a boiler and a steam turbine, will generate 11 megawatts of electricity during the day - enough to power around 11,000 homes.

The project, which has taken four years from drawing board to implementation, cost €35 million and has been partly financed by the EU. The EU Energy Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, said:

'These new technologies give Europe a new option to combat climate change and increase energy security while strengthening the competitiveness of the European industrial sector and creating jobs and growth.'

On Friday the European Commission published a map showing the solar power potential of Europe. Unsurprisingly, the map shows that Southern Europe has considerably greater potential to generate heat and electricity through solar technologies, although it will allow those considering installing solar equipment to calculate likely returns.

Brussels said that the map showed that Europe had 'considerable potential' for using solar power.

Click here for more on concentrating solar power.

This article first appeared in the Ecologist April 2007