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Sun, wind, moon — okay just sun and wind

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Solar towers in Spain

Some good news about solar – in Europe. Abengoa Solar began commercial operation of the huge PS20 solar power tower located at the Solucar Platform, near Seville.

It is the world’s largest solar power tower, with a generating capacity of 20 megawatts; it will produce enough solar energy to supply 10,000 homes.

During a three-day production and operational testing period last week, the PS20 surpassed the predicted power output, further validating the high potential of power tower technology, the company said in a statement.

“Generating more power during production testing than the design output is indeed a significant milestone,” said Santiago Seage, CEO of Abengoa Solar.

The world’s second power tower plant in commercial use, PS20 features a number of technological improvements over PS10, Abengoa’s and the world’s first commercial power tower.

The power capacity of the PS20 is double that of the earlier power tower, and Abengoa Solar has put in a higher-efficiency receiver, improvements in the control and operational systems, and a better thermal energy storage system.

PS20 consists of a solar field made up of 1,255 mirrored heliostats. Each heliostat, with a surface area of 1,291 square feet, reflects the solar radiation it receives onto the receiver, located on the top of a 531 feet-high tower.

The concentrated heat produces steam, which is converted into electricity generation by a turbine.

Abengoa Solar says operation of PS20 will avoid the emission of approximately 12,000 tons of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that a fossil fuel-burning power plant would have produced.

The Solucar platform generates 300 megawatts from a variety of solar sources – 50 MW from tower technology, 250 MW from troughs, 1.2 MW produced by photovoltaic technology, and 80 MW from Stirling dish technology.

Located in Sanlucar la Mayor, the platform will have 300 MW of installed capacity when it is completed in 2013. At that point the company says it is expected to produce enough energy to supply 153,000 households, and will prevent the emission of 185,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year.

During the lifespan of the platform, the company says, it will reduce an estimated four million tons of carbon emissions.

The platform covers a land area of 800 hectares and will create 300 permanent jobs for a total investment of 1.2 billion euros ($1.6 billion).

Besides the Solucar Platform, Abengoa Solar is building commercial solar power plants in Spain, Algeria, Morocco and the United States.

Abengoa’s U.S. headquarters in Lakewood, CO last October was awarded two research and development projects in the field of concentrating solar power that total more than $14 million by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Under the first award, Abengoa aims to develop technology that will reduce the cost of thermal energy storage for parabolic trough-based concentrating solar power systems by 20 to 25 percent. Three other Energy Department contracts awarded to Abengoa in December 2007 are focused on developing more efficient parabolic trough technology. Under the second 2008 contract Abengoa will investigate new technologies for integrating thermal energy storage with power tower systems.

SunPower, Vestas raise funds

SunPower Corp.  (Nasdaq: SPWRA; SPWRB), the provider of solar cells, solar panels, and solar systems, has completed a successful public share offer that will raise more than $417 million.solar-panels

On Thursday the San Jose company said underwriters of its public offerings exercised overallotment options to purchase an additional 1.35 million shares of class A common stock and $30.0 million aggregate principal amount of 4.75% senior convertible debentures due 2014.

The options were granted in connection with the company’s previously announced public offerings of 9,000,000 shares of class A common stock at $22.00 per share and $200 million aggregate principal amount of senior convertible debentures.

Including the exercise of the overallotment options, the aggregate net proceeds of the offerings are expected to be approximately $417.6 million, after deducting the underwriters’ discounts, commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by the company.

SunPower says intends to use the net proceeds for “general corporate purposes,” including working capital and capital expenditures. From time to time, it will “evaluate potential acquisitions and strategic transactions of business, technologies, or products, and may use a portion of the net proceeds for such acquisitions or transactions. Currently, however, the company does not have any agreements with respect to any such material acquisitions or strategic transactions.”

The senior convertible debentures will bear interest at a rate of 4.75% per year, payable on April 15 and October 15 of each year, beginning on October 15, 2009. The debentures will mature on April 15, 2014.

Closing of the public offerings of shares and debentures, including the exercise of the overallotment options, is expected to occur on May 4, 2009.

Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC and Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. are serving as joint book-running managers for the offerings. Lazard Capital Markets, Barclays Capital Inc., Piper Jaffray & Co., Wachovia Capital Markets, LLC, and SL Hare Capital, Inc. are serving as co-managers.

Vestas Wind Systems, meanwhile said its private offer of 18.5 million shares was fully subscribed in less than one day. It will raise about $1 billion for the company.cleantech2

The shares were offered April 28 to institutional and professional investors in Denmark and to international investors. The offer represents about 10% of the company’s share capital. Payment and settlement will take place on May 4, Vestas said.

While that was occurring the wind-turbine manufacturer said it would slash 1,900 jobs, mainly in the UK and in Denmark – about 9% of its workforce – due to “market oversupply.” The layoff announcement also came as the company reported a net profit of 56m euros ($73 million) for the first three months of 2009, up from 33m euros for the same period last year.


Written by William DiBenedetto

1 May, 2009 at 9:55 am

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