The financial close of a 30 MW solar thermal power plant based on linear Fresnel technology in Spain proves that the technology is bankable, says the firm building the plant.

A consortium of three European banks have arranged an export credit loan of around €67 million to enable the Puerto Errado 2 (PE2) project to reach financial close. The Murcia, Spain-based plant is the world’s first utility-scale linear Fresnel solar power plant.

“This represents a commercial breakthrough for the Fresnel technology,” said Hans Fischer, chairman of the management board of Novatec Solar, the firm that is supplying the linear Fresnel collector technology for PE2. “The financial close of Puerto Errado 2 confirms that Novatec Solar’s Linear Fresnel technology is bankable.”

Besides its conventional power block, the PE2 plant will comprise a solar boiler with a mirror surface of 302 000 m2. Once operational, PE 2 will produce approximately 50 million kWh of electricity per year.

Fresnel technology is similar in structure to parabolic CSP which uses parabolic mirrors to direct heat to a collector tube containing a heat transfer fluid. A Fresnel mirror employs a series of mirrors in the form of thin flat angled strips that perform the same function but are less costly to make and permit a simpler solar field array and lower construction costs.

A Novatec Solar subsidiary is the EPC contractor for the project. The German firm also owns 15 per cent of Tubo Sol PE2, a special purpose vehicle established to develop the plant.

Other shareholders in Tubo Sol are Swiss utilities EBL (Elektra Baselland) and IWB (Industrielle Werke Basel). “The closing of the debt financing for the Puerto Errado 2 project has been a major challenge in these difficult financial times. We are therefore proud to have achieved this important milestone,” said Urs Steiner, President of the Board of Tubo Sol PE2.

PE2 is on track for completion by March 2012 with 55 per cent of construction already achieved. The banks involved in the transaction are BayernLB, Commerzbank AG and Rabobank. Export credit insurance has been provided by Euler Hermes.