Submitted by: Solarlite GmbH
Implemented country: Thailand
Title: The Kanchanaburi project - plugged to the sun
The Kanchanaburi project is the first commercial solar thermal parabolic trough power plant based on Direct Steam Generation in the world. The operating concept of Direct Steam Generation uses water instead of expensive, toxic and flammable thermal oil. This makes the plant more environmentally friendly and guarantees attractive prices through significantly reduced investment costs. The power plant has a capacity of 5 MWe and is located at Huaykrachao in Kanchanaburi Province in Thailand.
The brain as well as the driving power behind this project is Dr. Joachim Krüger, an economics expert and environmental consultant from the Humboldt University, with a PhD in parabolic trough power engineering. In other words: A top-notch expert in his field of expertise and a father of three!
The idea for this project came to him while visiting SERT, the School of Renewable Energy and Technology, where Joachim saw a 5-m parabolic prototype and realized: There is no way this is going to work. Driven by his vision of CO2-free energy production based on the idea of using the sun as a free as well as clean energy source, he decided to offer practical evidence.
Joachim’s system, as opposed to projects by his competitors, is based on light composite-elements and a sleek steel structure. The extremely thin mirror layer offers a reflection of up to 95 per cent. No thermal oils are used. Instead, water is being evaporated. The technology also works with combined heat and power. The residual heat can be used for industrial applications, for example absorption cooling and desalination.
Dr. Joachim Krueger’s biggest challenges were the new and different climate and market conditions in Thailand. Also, the task of defining optimal pricing was not an easy one. Another issue was the handling of cultural differences that the Solarlite team dealt with through respect, acceptance and patience. It was a new experience for Joachim Krueger and an important aspect of learning how to deal with expansion.
The overall investment costs amounted to less than 20 million euros. A further reduction of the total investment costs up to 25% has been reached. The system’s lightweight components help save transportation and maintenance costs. The system runs completely without CO2 and is totally unhazardous. Compared to oil, this amounts to savings of nearly 1,000 tons a year, and, compared to coal, the figure is at nearly 1,300 tons per year. The Solarlite system is perfect for rural areas that are not part of a power grid. In addition, 150 new local jobs were created.
Solarlite signed contracts for several new projects in Thailand, further projects in Southeast Asia are under negotiation. Research and development continue to take high priority within Solarlite with the focus lying on further developments of the parabolic troughs, solar field design and thermal energy storage, all of which show great future potential. Solarlite wants to continue to expand, also into new countries, such as China, Europe, South Africa, the U.S.A, Australia, and Mexico.
Dr. Joachim Krueger gets his inspiration and strength from surfing, a hobby to which he applies the same principle: Only water, no CO2!
“It’s time to make the necessary changes. There is no need to wait until it is too late to tackle the problems as we have the solutions already.”
Dr. Joachim Krueger