Solúcar PS10 Power Station, Sanlúcar la Mayor, Spain
The Tower of Power
The city of Seville in southwestern Spain gets a lot of sunshine—over 320 days of nine or more hours of sunshine every year. In the peak of summer, the temperature can soar to 50°C, and the Sun shines for over 15 hours a day. The perfect weather makes Seville an ideal spot for solar power.
Drive 20 kilometers to the west of Seville and you’ll come to the small town of Sanlúcar la Mayor, where the Spanish company Abengoa has constructed two solar electricity–generating stations and is in the process of constructing more. The Sevilla PV station uses photovoltaic panels that track the Sun and provide power for about 500 homes, but if you drive out to Sanlúcar la Mayor, the first thing you’ll be struck by is a 115-meter tower rising from the landscape and apparently being sprayed with beams of white-hot gas.
The tower is at the center of a field of heliostats (mirrors that track the movement of the Sun) that focus the bright Spanish sunlight onto a receiver near the tower’s top. The reflected sunlight is so intense that water vapor and dust in the air glow white. All that’s needed to complete the scene is a maniacal James Bond villain atop the tower.
This tower is at the ...