Vallourec is the leading manufacturer of tubes for the Powergen sector. Our products are also employed in the generation of electricity from renewable energy sources. Here, the type and scope of their usage go beyond the known fossil and nuclear applications and include, for example,
solar power plants and
Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC).
Another application area for steel tubes is foundation structures for offshore wind turbines. These are made using our patented
PREON® marine system.
Solar power is understood to be the conversion of sunlight into electrical energy. This can be done either directly with the aid of photovoltaics or indirectly. One type of indirectly working solar power plant exploits global solar irradiation. This includes thermal power plants (solar updraft towers) and solar pond power plants. Another type of indirectly working solar power plants is called concentrated solar power plants (CSP).
CSP power plants work on the same principle as fossil-fueled power plants. Hot steam is generated and drives a steam turbine with a generator to generate electricity. The heat source is the sun, whose rays are concentrated on an absorber with the aid of lenses and mirrors, thus heating up a heat carrier medium.
In a solar tower plant – a special type of CSP plant – the combustion chamber of a fossil fueled power plant is replaced by a solar combustion chamber on a tower. The concentrated sunrays in the top of the tower can generate temperatures of up to 1,000 °C. This makes for particularly high rates of efficiency.
The 392 MW Ivanpah Solar Thermal Power System is the largest solar power plant in the world, located in the Mojave Desert of California. Several other large solar power plants can be found in Nevada and Arizona and in other countries in the world with high solar insolation. In Europe Spain has long lasting experience with solar power plants.
Vallourec participates in RAISELIFE, a project funded by the EU to enhance the lifetime of materials for Concentrated Solar Power Plants (read more).
Tubes from Vallourec have gone into several US and Spanish power plants.
Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) is a marine renewable energy technology that harnesses the solar energy absorbed by the oceans to generate electric power. The sun’s heat warms the surface water a lot more than the deep ocean water, creating the ocean’s naturally available temperature gradient which can be converted in electricity.
OTEC allows the continuous production of electricity and helps to respond to the growing need for electricity in regions located in the tropics not connected to continental power networks and ensure their future energy independence.
Next to producing electricity, OTEC also offers the possibility of co-generating other synergistic products, like fresh water, nutrients for enhanced fish farming and seawater cooled greenhouses enabling food production in arid regions. Last but not least, the cold water can be used in building air-conditioning systems. Energy savings of up to 90% can be realized.
titanium welded tubes for seawater condensers and evaporators used by the OTEC technology.
Vallourec's offshore foundation system PREON® marine has changed the way offshore wind turbines are installed by using foundation elements constructed from hot-rolled Mannesmann Structural Hollow Sections (MSH sections).
PREON® marine is lighter and makes building foundations easier than common structures by which offshore turbines are anchored today. Instead of driving piles up to 60 meters deep into the ground, the piles of the Vallourec construction require only about 20 meters of foundation and their outside diameter also is substantially smaller than that of the marine piles used so far. With PREON® marine, a stable foundation can be constructed quicker, with very much less noise and distinctly less material.
Find out more: PREON® marine