Over the last few years, environmental awareness has increased drastically. Instead of relying only on fossil or nuclear energy for generating electricity, renewable energies have come into play. Power is generated from natural resources such as wind, water, tides, geothermal heat and solar energy. One of the main solar plants in Spain is the Abertura Solar Park. It represents an investment of over 225 Million Euro and FLIR Systems have provided a total surveillance solution consisting of thermal imaging cameras, network video storage and video analytics.
With the help of photovoltaic cells, commonly called solar panels, light can be converted to electricity. Although Germany and Japan have long led the field in solar thermal energy production, today Spain is the hub for solar energy activity. Abertura Photovoltaic Solar Plant, the largest installation in the world with dual-axis solar trackers, is one of the main sites in Spain and located in the Spanish province of Cáceres. The location is considered ideal because it gets almost 2,000 net hours of sun per year and the land is very flat, which makes it ideal for the installation of photovoltaic solar panels.
The solar trackers of the 23.1 Megawatt (MWp) Abertura Solar project make the panels move both north, south, east and west. They assure that the solar panels are always ideally positioned towards the sun, which drastically increases the plant's capacity. Abertura Solar consists of more than two hundred 115 kilowatt (kWp) blocks and was completed in July 2008. The entire installation covers an area of more than 2,000,000 m2.
Generation and Distribution
Vector Cuatro is an active company in Spain for strategic and financial consulting on investments in solar photovoltaic power plants. Currently, Vector Cuatro manages and/or administers nearly 90 MW. It is the only management and administration company that has participated in the complete process of promotion, development, structuring, financing and start up of photovoltaic installations for third parties. Today, Vector Cuatro manages 13 solar power plants in Spain, for nine of which the management started after the plants had been constructed.
The solar plant in Abertura, was developed and constructed entirely under the supervision of Vector Cuatro.
Just as in many other similar installations, the energy generated by the photovoltaic cells is first inverted from DC to AC. Each of the over two thousand trackers generates 11.5 kWp at 400 VDC. Once the 400 VDC has been inverted to AC, a step-up transformer increases the voltage to 20 kV in order to transport the electrical energy. Finally, this energy is uploaded to the distribution grid of the local utility at 45 kV.
At Abertura, the utility that is uploading the electricity to its grid and distributing it is Grupo Iberdrola. Following a period of strong international expansion, Iberdrola has established itself as one of the four largest energy companies in the world by market capitalization. The group has made a major commitment to the use of cleaner technologies, becoming a world leader in solar and wind energy and is now one of the companies with the lowest CO2 emission levels in the electricity sector. The company's Substations department also designed and built the transformer substation at Abertura.
An investment of 225 Million Euro Needs to Be Protected
"The development and construction of the Abertura solar power plant has been a giant project", explains Borja Escalada, Managing Partner of the Vector Cuatro Group. "We were involved in every step; acquiring the land on which the plant is installed; purchasing and installing the photovoltaic cells and solar trackers and all the other aspects. The entire solar plant represents a total investment of approx. 225 million Euro. Depending on the climatic conditions, we generate electricity for about 25 million each year."
"It is clear that an investment of 225 million Euro needs to be protected. There are several threats for an installation of this size. First of all, photovoltaic panels and our huge network of copper cables are expensive and therefore theft is a big concern. But the site not only needs to be protected against theft: we need to protect potential thieves and other intruders against themselves as well because the site contains high voltage installations and people gaining unauthorized access might seriously hurt themselves or, even worse, be killed", continues Escalada.
"Also for Iberdrola it is important that the plant is well protected", says Esther Muñoz, Technical Maintenance of Iberdrola Ingeniería Y Construcción. "Power generating facilities are vital for a country's economy and are a potential target for terrorism. If anything should happen to the plant due to sabotage or terrorism we would lose a part of our grid, so that we would not be able to serve our customers. This needs to be avoided at all times."
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