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ENERGY • ACS-Cobra

ACS CobrA

www.grupocobra.com

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ENERGY • ACS-Cobra

ACS-CobrA

002

Energy Innovations

on a Global Scale

JANUARY 2010 • The International Resource Journal

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JANUARY 2010 • The International Resource Journal

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JANUARY 2010 • The International Resource Journal 5 The thermal solar industry may have been gathering

The thermal solar industry may have been gathering weight and recognition as of late, but now a new breakthrough from Cobra, a Madrid-based arm of the ACS Group, the international expert engineering, operations, installation and maintenance services company, is set to pave the way for realizing the operational potential of this renewable energy resource.

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ENERGY • ACS-Cobra

6 ENERGY • ACS-Cobra ACS-CobrA hAS AChieved dispatchable solar ther- mal power through its heat storage

ACS-CobrA hAS AChieved dispatchable solar ther- mal power through its heat storage facilities be- ginning with its landmark power plant, Andasol 1, near Guadix in Granada, Spain. Andasol signals a new chapter for solar thermal and our worldwide ability to store renewable power and, consequent- ly, achieve a virtually zero carbon electricity supply. Jose Alfonso Nebrera, Director General of ACS- Cobra, spoke to IRJ about what Andasol means for

solar thermal, for the 2020 renewable energy tar- gets, for the cooperation of the international power market and the other ground-breaking projects in development at ACS-Cobra.

Developing ACS-Cobra and ESTELA.

Nebrera has been working in the energy business since completing his studies in engineering in 1974. During this time, he has seen the evolu-

Engineering Execution of turn key projects Manufacturing of capital goods and erection and maintenance of
Engineering Execution of turn key projects Manufacturing of capital goods and erection and maintenance of
Engineering Execution of turn key projects Manufacturing of capital goods and erection and maintenance of
Engineering Execution of turn key projects Manufacturing of capital goods and erection and maintenance of

Engineering

Engineering Execution of turn key projects Manufacturing of capital goods and erection and maintenance of industrial
Engineering Execution of turn key projects Manufacturing of capital goods and erection and maintenance of industrial

Execution of turn key projects

Engineering Execution of turn key projects Manufacturing of capital goods and erection and maintenance of industrial

Manufacturing of capital goods and erection and maintenance of industrial facilities

Among the activities developed by IMASA for ACS – COBRA Group, we can highlight the following:

“IMASA has departments specialised in the supply and erection of thermal and acoustic insulation and refractories”.

Imasa Ingeniería y Proyectos, S.A. Palacio Valdés, 1 33002 – Oviedo (Asturias – Spain) tel: +34 985 51 18 83

S.A. Palacio Valdés, 1 33002 – Oviedo (Asturias – Spain) tel: +34 985 51 18 83

www.imasa.com

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ENERGY • ACS-Cobra

8 ENERGY • ACS-Cobra tion of ACS-Cobra from an excellent, but relatively small, local contractor, to

tion of ACS-Cobra from an excellent, but relatively small, local contractor, to a world leader in energy related construction and services. In the last few years, he devoted a large portion of his time to the C.S.P. industry, as co-founder of Protermoso- lar; the Spanish Concentrated Solar Power Indus- try Association, and ESTELA, or, the European Solar Thermal Electricity Association (of which he is president today). “I started in the construction of nuclear power plants for a large portion of my career, and I started working for Cobra back in 1988.

I’ve been in the company for more than 21 years now. Cobra became part of the ACS Group around 1992, and from that moment on, I’ve been involved in the ACS energy business,” he recalls. “We first started here in Spain by promoting the Andasol plants which we took over from So- lar Millennium in around 2003. They were trying to develop the projects, but they didn’t have the financial capacity or technical credibility with the Spanish authorities to create the proper legal framework.”

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JANUARY 2010 • The International Resource Journal
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ENERGY • ACS-Cobra

1 0 ENERGY • ACS-Cobra ACS-Cobra made an agreement with Solar Millennium and subsequently, through the

ACS-Cobra made an agreement with Solar Millennium and subsequently, through the then just born Protermosolar, created by ACS, SENER [SENER Ingeniería y Sistemas S.A] and Abengoa Solar, agreed with the Spanish ministry on the legal framework to make the promotion of Anda- sol and other plants possible with the necessary level of feed-in tariff. “By 2007, and following a suggestion from Schott Solar, we decided that it was a good time to start a new European association for the im- merging solar thermal industry, which we called ESTELA, and I became the president at that time,” Nebrera says. “ESTELA is now one of the main parties to discuss solar thermal related issues with the European Union institutions. We have a lot of in- terchange with the European Commission. That means that the president has to spend a lot of his time with ESTELA activities, which means that probably 30 per cent of my time is spent with ESTELA.” Today, ESTELA takes part in the discussion, development and promotion of a multitude of solar thermal issues, both within Europe and worldwide, including the leadership of the Solar Industry Initiative of the E.U. Strategic Energy Plan, multiple contributions to the Mediterranean Solar Plan or the development of a C.S.P. Cost Roadmap.

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1 2 ENERGY • ACS-Cobra “The activity and role of ESTELA is more intense than ever

“The activity and role of ESTELA is more intense than ever before, and it will grow as energy becomes more and more of a priority for the E.U. political, social and economy scenario,” Nebrera says.

ACS-Cobra’s renewable energy projects

Nebrera says that for the most part, ACS-Cobra’s energy projects are executed within the compa- ny’s industrial branch, ACS S.C.E. “A large portion of our €7.5 billion per year revenue is in the world of energy—electricity, gas, virtually any aspect of the energy business. A large and growing portion of that is our work within renewables. From a renewables point of view, we are very much involved in wind farms and C.S.P. We have something like 1.3 gigabytes of wind farms in operation, mainly in Spain, and we’re promoting projects in other countries

around the world,” he explains. “We’re presently one of the main owners [companies] of thermal solar. We have 150 MW of thermal solar plants operating, the two Anda- sol and one Extresol plant. In fact, we’re the only company with dispatchable thermal solar plants operating, and I guess we’ll be this way for the next year or so.” Nebrera says that there are plants being built in Spain which come complete with stor- age, however those will not be finished until around the end of 2010. Meanwhile, ACS-Cobra continues to build and improve on its own solar thermal plant projects. “We are building another four plants of the same kind and with the same characteristics, with incremental improvements in technology and cost reduction, with a total investment in the seven plants of more than €2 billion,” Nebrera says. “Simultaneously, we’re working on the design of the next generation of plants that will contain different features from the ones we’re building now. We’re not linked to any particular technolo- gies. For example, we’re working in one tower pow- er plant in association with SENER, which is being built in the Seville province for Torresol, a company owned by SENER and MASDAR from Abu Dhabi. It’s a 17 MW power plant and it’s a very interest- ing technology as well, with higher tempearatures

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ENERGY • ACS-Cobra

and 15 hours storage. We’re also working for other clients in power generation construction in many different technologies,” he continues. ACS-Cobra has been working on the Castor offshore Underground Gas-Storage (U.G.S.) project, located off Spain’s east coast, for the past three years. In May, 2009, the company was able to launch the construction, and the storage will be- come operational in 2012, with a total investment of over €1.5 billion. “Getting all of the necessary permits for the project took a long time, as permitting is some- times even longer than the construction of the project itself. Now we have almost all of the per- mits we need, however, there are still some that

we expect to gain by March 2010, and for the time being we are progressing with the fabrication of the jackets and the platforms,” he says. “We have already sub-contracted the pipe con- nection from the platforms to the onshore facility, and we have also gained the contract for that on- shore facility. Basically, we have contracted or sub- contracted around 85 to 90 per cent of the job.” Nebrera adds that despite the delicate finan- cial aftermath of the global financial crisis, the project financing for the Castor U.G.S. project will be a success and will set an important milestone in the industry. “Putting together the banks and work on all of the details in the financial contracts is taking quite

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ENERGY • ACS-Cobra

some time, but we expect to sign everything by the first quarter of 2010,” Nebrera says. Meanwhile in Mexico, ACS-Cobra is working on a unique project which Nebrera says, from a com- pany perspective, is very important in terms of the size and technology involved. “It’s a project on the development of natural gas fields for PEMEX in Mexico. We’re developing three large gas fields so far, where we are doing all of the drilling, wells construction and the as- sociated infrastructure for the piping and facili- ties and everything to deliver the clean gas to PEMEX,” he reveals.

“This is a project of around $2 billion which will be developed over the next fifteen years. It’s a new approach to contracting using very intel- ligent rules which were created by PEMEX for this specific kind of job. This allows the company to profit from a large project which is financed by the contractors, so we are financing all of the activity based on the actual value of the gas—which we deliver to PEMEX.”

The Andasol breakthrough

Of course, all of these latest projects come after Andasol. Nebrera says that when ACS-

PEMEX.” The Andasol breakthrough Of course, all of these latest projects come after Andasol. Nebrera says

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Cobra took the project over, Solar Millennium remained involved with a 25 per cent owner- ship share. “We contracted as E.P.C. contractor a joint venture of Cobra [80 per cent] and SENER [20 per cent], and the E.P.C contractor sub-contracted to Flagsol, a sub company of Solar Millennium, the engineering of the solar field and the H.T.F. (Heat Transfer Fluid),” he says. “A few months ago, we bought the remaining 25 per cent that was left under the ownership of Solar Millennium, so presently 100 per cent of the two plants are owned by Cobra.”

Andasol has been in operation for one year now, and Nebrera stresses that this breakthrough power plant ought to be understood worldwide for what it proves: the successful storage of solar thermal energy. “The heat storage is a novelty, something entirely new in the thermal solar industry, and is working very well. This is very important for the future of how much thermal solar we can ac- commodate in our electricity systems, because it is already happening that solar thermal plants are dispatchable. I think this is essential for the future—not only for thermal solar as a technology

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ENERGY • ACS-Cobra

but also for all of us in terms of the possibility of having, in the medium-term, a very low carbon electricity supply,” he says. “I think that a number of very influential peo- ple are not fully aware that this is happening. It is important that everybody knows that heat storage in solar thermal plants is a reality, it is working very well and is a technology that is proven. It has to be improved but it is already working very well.” Nebrera says that the limitations of renew- ables, such as the lack of predictability with wind and running water plants, beg the ques- tion, “how much renewable-based energy can be actually accommodated by the electricity systems?” “We are already proving through the opera- tion of Andasol one and two, and now Extresol one, the answer is that thermo solar electricity can cover a lot of the future electricity needs of countries or territories which already have a size-

able good resource, in terms of radiation, or are close to deserts where the amount of radiation is very high. That is Europe’s case,” he explains.

Actualizing energy potential:

solar thermal and beyond

Consider hydro and biomass energies. They can be harnessed, stored, and dispatched when needed. The electricity from large hydro dams is fully dispatchable, and biomass can be burned as demand dictates. But Nebrera explains that the only other renewable resource which can be dispatched is solar, with a worldwide potential which is several orders of magnitude above hydro and biomass. “To have a lot of dispatchable solar within a relatively isolated system such as the Iberian Peninsula system, as Spain and Portugal are quite well integrated, would be beneficial in terms of the system security and stability, and it can help to ac-

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commodate additional amounts of non-dispatch- able sources, such as wind or P.V.,” he says. “In time, the interconnection of the European Baltic and Mediterranean countries (in a kind of super grid) should be designed not to serve the needs of a specific country or region, as the pres- ent national or regional grids do, but to transport large amounts of electricity from one corner of this vast territory to the other, with acceptable losses.” Nebrera says that the creation of this much- discussed super grid would be of huge benefit to both the electricity market and the E.U. pursuit of the 2020 renewable energy goals. It appears that

including and beyond harnessing solar thermal, cooperation is key to achieving E.U. renewable targets at a reasonable cost. “If you have to install a storage or back-up ca- pacity, for example in Spain, to accommodate the 40,000 MW of wind that some people are project- ing for 2020 or 2025, it is going to cost a fortune. If we were very well connected with the rest of Europe we would not need to cover the same back- up or storage considerations,” Nebrera says. “The more wind energy is integrated into the grid, the more important is to share wind and all other resources such as solar and hydro amongst

wind and all other resources such as solar and hydro amongst MONESA MONESA I&C MONESA INGENIERÍA
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Our a Company is specialized in design, construction, fabrication and erection of big storage tanks and that has developed his own special erection systems.

The main fields in which we are working are:

• Petrochemical – Classical tanks fixed and floating roof till a capacity of 150.000 CM.

• GNL Plants - Monesa has realized 8 GNL 150.000 CM tanks and is erecting two more.

• Thermosolar Plants – Salt tanks (working temperature 400º C).

We are suppliers of ACS-COBRA Group and we have participated with them in the GNL Plant of Sagunto (4 tanks) and Thermosolar Plants (Andasol 2 Groups and Extresol 2 Groups).

Thermosolar Plants (Andasol 2 Groups and Extresol 2 Groups). Ercilla 15, Bilbao 48009 - SPAIN. Phone:
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ENERGY • ACS-Cobra

European and neighbouring countries—very impor- tant in terms of reducing cost and improving our chances for getting to a low carbon economy in a relatively short time.” Speaking of costing a fortune, cost must be considered a pivotal issue when looking at both solar thermal energy potential in 2010 and look- ing ahead to 2020 goals. “Looking at how com- ponents and materials costs are evolving, we are more optimistic in terms of the future cost de- crease of the C.S.P. electricity, but we will have a much more educated approach when we complete the ESTELA´s cost roadmap in a few weeks.”

In light of the global financial crisis, Nebrera highlights regulation to be a driving force in moving on from the last two difficult years. “From the financing point of view, our percep- tion is that things have improved within the last four or five months, and will improve more in the next five or six months. By the end of 2010, we should be in more or less a business as usual situ- ation regarding the financial markets. That would be very good from the viewpoint of our activities and all of our colleague’s activities,” he says. “But of course, this industry is going to need some help for a number of years ahead, and

AGALSA & ENERGÍA GIJÓN are two of the member companies of GRUPO AGALSA. Asturiana Galvanizadora
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Energía Gijón is an engineering company focused
into the manufacture of high precision metal galvanized
structures for solar fields with the most modern technol-
ogy equipment (cutting laser, welding robots)

JANUARY 2010 • The International Resource Journal

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JANUARY 2010 • The International Resource Journal 21 there is a lot of new regulation to

there is a lot of new regulation to be done be- tween now and the end of 2010. Did you know that there is a deadline of December 25, Christ- mas Day, of 2010 which is the last day of the transposition of the R.E.S. [Renewable Energy Sources] Directive? There are crucial events in Europe and worldwide which we are expecting for 2010—a very interesting year in the after- math of the Copenhagen meeting. If we, as Euro- peans, are successful in promoting the changes which are already there in the Directive, and are to be implemented and made operational, I think that a new era for European electricity will appear very clearly—resulting in a lot of business for companies like us, not only in generation but also in transmission.” Just as the super grid offers cooperative de- velopment between the European Union (E.U.) member countries- as well as neighbouring coun- tries- towards achieving our 2020 targets, Nebrera says that being based from Spain, a country rich in natural renewable energy potential, could well play in ACS-Cobra’s favour. “We are convinced that in Spain, we’re lucky to have a lot renewable resources, not only sun, but wind also. We may have the possibility of cooperat- ing with other European countries in achieving the targets for 2020,” he says. “Furthermore, our connection with Morocco

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ENERGY • ACS-Cobra

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will be crucial in the initial stages of the Mediterra- nean Solar Plan development (M.S.P.).” He adds that the goals put forward by the Re- newable Energy Directive are yet to be developed, but this could well be done through transposing them from the Directive through to the national legislations of E.U. members. “Once those mechanisms are transposed, the market will appear for plants to be built, for instance, in Spain, Greece, and Portugal, with an aim to export part of the green rights associated with the generation of electricity to countries like Belgium or Luxembourg—countries which are prob- ably short of internal resources to achieve their targets,” he says. “In our opinion, that could create a market for renewable energy plants to be built wherever there are lots of natural resources, then the feed-in tariff and difference in cost would be taken by the countries that don’t have the natu- ral resources to achieve their goals, possibly through some sort of Green Electricity Certifi- cates European market.” So where can solar fit into this grand plan of a brand new united electricity market? That is where the potential for developing the Mediter- ranean solar plant steps in. “The M.S.P. is an initiative of the Union for the Mediterranean (U.f.M.) countries and presently the

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European Commission, and everybody is working to make this plan possible. I think that there is a lot of political momentum around the convenience of going ahead with the Mediterranean Solar Plan,” Nebrera says. “We expect to have something operational by the end of 2010 possibly and, through ESTELA and Protermosolar, we are working closely with the Spanish presidency of the European Union, the European Commission and some of the Union for the Mediterranean partners countries to acceler- ate as much as possible, the deployment of those mechanisms that are envisaged in the directive to make the pioneering projects happen within the next one to two years. I think that’s a major aspect of the cooperation between Europe and the neigh- bouring countries for the next decade, and we are looking forward to the appointment of the U.f.M. Secretariat to offer our ideas and help to this endeavour.”

ACS-Cobra, solar thermal and beyond

When you consider the potential for far-reaching change and development offered by the Andasol one and two and Extresol solar thermal plants today, it seems strange that still some influential people remain unaware of how significant this achievement is both for ACS-Cobra and for our renewable futures.

“It’s here and it’s working. We have to improve the performance and reduce the cost of the elec- tricity produced and those are the challenges for the future,” Nebrera says. “Dispatchability is something that is already proven and this is very essential for the future, not only for this technology, but for renewable energy and electricity.” Through their pioneering technology, expertise and sheer commitment to renewable innovation which can benefit everyone worldwide, ACS-Cobra is literally lighting our futures with its solar thermal

projects.

everyone worldwide, ACS-Cobra is literally lighting our futures with its solar thermal projects. www.grupoCobrA.Com

www.grupoCobrA.Com

JANUARY 2010 • The International Resource Journal

JANUARY 2010 • The International Resource Journal AS SeeN iN The JANuArY 2010 iSSue oF The

AS SeeN iN The JANuArY 2010 iSSue oF The iNTerNATioNAL reSourCe JourNAL

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