In March 2009, the Andasol-1 solar power station became the first solar thermal collector station in Europe. Andasol-2 and Andasol-3 followed in 2009 and 2011.
Located in southern Spain, these stations are using a very different technology compared to traditional photovoltaic (PV) solar panel collection systems. These parabolic trough power plants absorb the sun’s energy during the day, store it within a “heat reservoir” of molten salt, and then create electricity through the use of thermal turbines. The electricity is then distributed for up to 200,000 people in an environmentally sound fashion at relatively low cost. Due to the extensive cooling needed for a thermal power system, the stations’ location near the Sierra Nevada mountain range provides the critical water supply needed for operations.
These Landsat images, acquired by Landsat 5 in 1987 and Landsat 8 in 2013, show the general area. The solar plant installations can be seen in the center of the 2013 image. The pan-sharpened inset image provides a closer view of the combined systems.
The data collected by Landsat satellites over the past 40 years have contributed to a vast archive of imagery, which can be used to study and monitor changes of the Earth’s surface.