Before work began on the project, an environmental impact assessment of the project site and plant operations was undertaken. The assessment determined that the project would have no significant environmental impacts, provided adequate controls and monitoring procedures were implemented. The areas particularly scrutinized from the operational phase were pollutant emissions from the heaters, accidental oil leaks from the heat transfer fluid piping and wastewater produced by the plant. From the construction phase focus areas were air emissions (dust and combustion gases), land take, soil erosion, accidental discharge/ spills of chemicals and waste materials, and the operation of heavy machinery.

None of these potential impacts is expected to be significant given the effective mitigation steps in place and the robust ecological systems at the site or at nearby receptors. These impacts are being controlled and minimized through proper operational controls, procedures, method statements and training.

Environmental Impact Assessment

The environmental impact assessment addressed impacts involving the project’s location, construction and operation. More explicitly, the assessment reviewed:

The physical environment

  • Climate and meteorology: impacts of project phases on air quality.
  • Noise quality: impact of project phases on noise quality.
  • Soil and geology: the type and quality of soil, and geology.
  • Groundwater and hydrogeology: the type and quality of groundwater in the vicinity of the site.
  • Landscape: the natural or built landscape surrounding the project site.

The biological environment

  • Terrestrial ecology
  • Sensitive areas

The socio-economic environment

  • Current and future land use: the type and ownership status of the project’s land site.
  • Traffic generation: impacts on traffic flows along the E-12 highway.
  • Archaeology: presence of any cultural/ heritage resources.

The following parameters were studied during the assessment:

  • Infrastructure
  • Traffic and transportation routes
  • Land use
  • Archaeology
  • Population
  • Risk and safety
Solar Measurement Campaign

A study of the plant site’s direct normal solar irradiation (DNI) values for every hour of the year was conducted by correlating results from a one-year ground measurement study and 15 years (1991-2009) of satellite data acquired from the German Aerospace Centre (DLR). The yearly DNI sums vary between 1,862 kWh/m2 and 2,023 kWh/m2. The annual average DNI was calculated for the site as 1,934 kWh/m2. The DNI at solar noon is characterized by very high hourly direct solar irradiation during autumn, spring and winter, and lower values during summer. 

Heat Transfer Fluid

Synthetic oil will be used as the heat-transfer fluid to maintain pressure within manageable parameters. The oil used is Solutia Therminol VP-1 (biphenyl and diphenyl ether), which was selected because it meets the requirements of vapor-phase systems between 257°C and 400°C or liquid-phase systems from 12°C to 400°C. 

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