Who would want Abengoa’s assets?

Abengoa bankruptcy: Who might buy the company's CSP plant assets in Chile, South Africa and the USA, or invest in Abengoa Yield? Photo: Mojave Solar Project, Abengoa

Abengoa bankruptcy: Who might buy the Spanish company’s CSP plant assets in Chile, South Africa and the USA, or invest in Abengoa Yield? Photo: Mojave Solar Project, Abengoa

By Jason Deign

Abengoa, the Spanish renewable infrastructure developer, is thought to be hunting buyers for assets, including a large amount of storage, as it faces bankruptcy.

The company filed for preliminary creditor protection a fortnight ago after failing to secure funds from investors led by Gonvarri Corporación Financiera. It now has four months to secure an agreement with creditors.

Given scale of the business, which employs 7,000 people in Spain and many more abroad, it is possible the company might be bailed out by whichever party wins general elections in Spain this December 20.

In any event, however, it seems likely the business will be forced to sell much of its project portfolio to offset debts that may amount to more than €20bn.

According to data from Abengoa’s website, that portfolio includes a total of 27 hours of molten salt storage tied to some 360MW of solar thermal plant generation, spread across three projects in South Africa and one in Chile.
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Solar thermal energy storage loses its way

Does phase-change material storage have advantages over molten salt thermal energy storage for a concentrated solar power plant? Photo credit: Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, SolarReserve

Is phase-change material storage better than molten salt thermal energy storage for a concentrated solar power plant? Photo: Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, SolarReserve

Too much salt is not just bad for your health. It could also harm the likelihood of thermal energy storage (TES) cost reduction across the entire concentrated solar power (CSP) industry.

Right now, molten salt TES is seen as critical in justifying the high cost of CSP versus other renewable energy sources, such as solar PV or wind.

TES allows CSP, or solar thermal energy, to deliver stable, round-the-clock power, which is more valuable to grid operators than the intermittent generation provided by renewable alternatives.

But it is just possible that a growing preference for molten salt among CSP developers could hamper the chances of adopting more efficient and cost-effective types of TES.
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