Index number 50 /Up-to-Date

Cost savings: a key objective for Torresol Energy

Gemasolar’s field of heliostats.

Gemasolar’s field of heliostats.

In any industrial activity, cost savings are a strategic objective because of their direct effect on profits. For thermosolar plants, changes to Spanish regulations in recent years have led to major decreases in the expected profitability of these facilities. This has made cost savings even more important, turning them into a key factor for ensuring an acceptable level of profitability.

The Torresol Energy team has achieved cost savings without decreasing the projects’ efficiency or safety.

Torresol Energy owns three thermosolar plants in Spain –the pioneering Gemasolar plant in Seville, and the twin Valle 1 & Valle 2 plants in Cádiz– and it has implemented a series of measures to cut costs in all three. Focusing on Operation and Maintenance (O&M) at the plants, the measures are wide-ranging, and include combining and renegotiating contracts, improving the purchasing process, conducting intense searches for lower-cost suppliers without a decrease in the quality of supplies or services, working on the plant’s self-consumption, and optimizing internal and external resources. As an example of this last measure, the internal payrolls of Valle 1 & Valle 2 have been increased to seven employees, but the number of subcontracted personnel has been reduced to 17.

The purchasing of replacement parts has also been optimized through adjustments to some of the maintenance ranges for the equipment. This measure, which entailed considerable effort, was made possible by the experience the Torresol O&M team has acquired in these solar facilities, whose technological concept is wholly unique. Gemasolar has special importance in this regard, being the first ever plant with the central tower and high-temperature storage configuration to enter commercial operation.

The Torresol Energy team has achieved cost savings without decreasing the projects’ efficiency or safety. To do so, the General Management, along with the Plant Managers, looked for an equilibrium between improvements in O&M and economic streamlining of processes, managing to find a positive balance between the profits achieved and the risks assumed.

Torresol Energy can now be considered a pioneer in reducing the costs of thermosolar plants, and a large degree of this experience can be extrapolated to other projects in the future, with the necessary adjustments for each project’s specific features. Accordingly, this long-term vision of applying what it is currently learning to the development of new facilities is something Torresol Energy has made part of its work philosophy.

This experience can be shared with other companies in the SENER group. In fact, Torresol Energy remains in constant contact with the SENER engineering teams working on the design of thermosolar plants and other power facilities, so that it can share the lessons it has learned and make proposals for reducing costs and improving O&M in industrial plants.

Gallery

Valle 1 & Valle 2 aerial view. Gemasolar plan aerial view. Valle 1 & Valle 2 molten salt tanks. SENERtrough® system loop at Valle 1 & Valle 2 plants. Gemasolar tower in operation. Heliostat in Gemasolar.

Copyright SENER 2017