Back in 2009, the Israeli firm, Aora, impressed the CSP community when it installed an innovative tower plant based on technology developed at the Weizmann Institute of Science in the Arava desert in southern Israel. The facility was immediately nicknamed the "Power Flower" station, due to its unique yellow tulip design developed of by Haim Dotan Ltd. architects.
The plant consists of a field of 30 tracking mirrors (heliostats) situated on half an acre of land, with a 30-metre high tower standing in the middle of the complex at Kibbutz Samar, outside Eilat.
Described as the world's first hybrid solar thermal gas turbine power station, the facility is capable of generating 100 kW of electric power in addition to 170 kW of thermal power. “This marked the first time that CSP stations can provide environmentally-friendly power 24 hours a day”, said Aora’s CEO at the time, Haim Fried.
The patented receiver uses the solar energy to heat air to a temperature of 1,000 degrees Celsius and directs this energy into the turbine, which converts the thermal energy into electric power that is fed directly into the national grid. Besides solar energy, the power station can also run on other alternative fuel, including bio-gas, bio-diesel and natural gas. So the station can produce electricity when sunlight is insufficient, such as at night or when it is cloudy. "It can shift seamlessly between using the sun as fuel and a conventional or another renewable fuel," explains Pinchas Doron, Aora’s Chief Technology Officer.
Flower power for Spain
Now the Israeli company is close to commissioning its second hybrid CSP plant in Almeria, southern Spain. Again, the plant will have a capacity of 100 kWe plant. Aora explains that the station's modular approach “offers wide implementation options, provides customers with the ability to finance installations in stages, allows for construction in scattered locations and on sloped land and places less stress on the energy grid”.
An inauguration ceremony will take place on Tuesday, 7 February at 13:00 at the Platforma Solar de Almeria (PSA), the world's largest science park dedicated solely to the research and development of solar-based power-generating systems. The event will be attended by Zev Rosenzweig, Aora’s current CEO, Pinchas Doron, and Israel's Ambassador to Spain, Ambassador Alon Bar. In addition, dozens of prominent businessmen and clean tech experts from Europe, Israel and around the world are expected to participate in the event.
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