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Solar towers

Solar power towers are concrete towers used to concentrate heat in solar thermal power plants. They are also key to plants that generate solar power using reflectors that concentrate sunlight.

These solar power plants use a large number of sun-tracking mirrors called heliostats to reflect and concentrate sunlight onto a receiver on the tower. There are various types of zero-emission power plants.

Some concentrate sunlight onto a collector structure in the central base of a very tall chimney tower. The resulting convection causes hot air to updraft in the tower. There is another type of tower that concentrates heat in a hot salt deposit. They function as a thermal battery and the resulting heat is used to power a turbine when needed.

Constructing solar power towers

Heliostats are used to concentrate heat: low structures that include mirrors that reflect sunlight toward a specific target. Nevertheless, the most complex part of the plant is constructing the solar power tower, a large infrastructure that must be wind-resistant and that requires advanced slipform procedures.

Functioning and construction

In 2008, Edytesa constructed the tower for the solar power plant, PS20, in Sevilla. It the second plant of this kind in the entire world. The tower is 165 meters tall and the plant has a 20 MW installed capacity. To design this type of construction, we used tools such as digital modeling and wind tunnel mock-up.

Design is a critical phase because solar power towers, especially solar thermal power plants, are subject to mechanical and thermal stress (wind, climate, temperature differences). Constructing and maintaining them over time is also difficult. Even the shortest solar power towers, such as the Eureka 5 (49 m), needed 125 lineal meters of slipforming and 5,800 m2 of formwork.

In the renewable energy sector, we have a wide range of experience from constructing two solar power towers in Seville for the company Abengoa Solar and from constructing the first solar thermal power plant in Latin America, with 10,600 mirrors in the Atacama desert. To construct this solar power tower, we slid the 214-m tall, reinforced concrete shaft. Along with the slipform system, we hoisted a large, auxiliary structure weighing almost 200 tonnes that covered a large part of the interior surface of the tower (almost 1000 m2). At the same time, this allowed them to be lifted together using the slipfrm system. 2 tower cranes, 3 devices to lift concrete, containers to be used as a cafeteria and 2 chemical toilets for personnel.

While constructing the concentrated solar power towers, we designed, projected, and executed the entire job. We also directed the work, providing turnkey solutions for this type of construction.

Other essential elements in producing renewable energy, such as wind turbine towers and other solar power towers, also form part of our portfolio. Many of the R&D&I developments we make are related with this sector.

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