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Something New Under the Sun: Israeli Hybrid Solar Tech. in Spain

AORA, the innovative solar energy developer using Israeli research, dedicated its Second Hybrid Micro CSP Power Station in Spain.
By Rochel Sylvetsky
First Publish: 2/9/2012, 12:52 PM

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AORA Solar (www.aora-solar.com), a renewable energy pioneer and leading developer of applied ultra-high temperature concentrating solar power (CSP) technology, has completed construction on its second gas turbine solar thermal power station. The station was constructed over a period of seven months, and is designed for a minimum economic lifespan of 25 years

Built in Almeria, Spain, the plant is now undergoing commissioning and certification and is scheduled to begin regular power generation. An official dedication was held on February 7th, attended by VIPs from Spain, Israel, the United States and several other countries, as well as by politicians and businessmen.

The first AORA power station was constructed in Kibbutz Samar, Israel, using innovative technology developed in Rehovot by a team of local researchers. The technology has unique advantages that make it a growing force in the energy-conscious environment of today's world.

Firstly, in addition to producing electricity, the Almeria plant also produces 170 kW of heat as a byproduct, which will be used to power a desalination plant. 

Secondly, AORA's innovative energy generating system is designed to require less land and less water while generating more usable power and heat than other solar energy systems.

Third, the company's revolutionary hybrid approach enables the system to run not only on solar radiation, but on almost any alternative fuel as well, including biogas, biodiesel and natural gas.

This enables a variety of operation modes – from solar-only mode, where electricity is supplied from  ample sunlight, to hybrid-mode, where fuel helps generate electricity when sunlight is insufficient, such as when it is cloudy, to fuel-only mode during night hours or heavily overcast periods, thereby guaranteeing an uninterrupted  power supply 24 hours a day.

Fourth, the station's modular approach offers wide implementation options, allows for construction in scattered locations and on sloped land, places less stress on the energy grid and provides customers with the ability to finance installations in stages. The system is comprised of very small modular units (100kWe / 170kW heat) which can be linked together into centrally controlled power plants, customized to client demand.

The power station in Almeria consists of a field of 52 tracking mirrors (heliostats). Each heliostat follows the sun and directs its rays towards the top of a 35 meter-high tower housing a special solar receiver along with a 100kWe gas turbine. The patented receiver uses the sun’s energy to heat air to a temperature of 1,000 degrees Celsius and directs this energy into the turbine. The turbine then converts this thermal energy into electric power.

Platforma Solar Almeria is the world's largest and most exclusive science park dedicated solely to the research and development of solar-based power-generating systems.

"We are very excited to complete construction on our second power station, and we look forward to demonstrating our unique ability to provide our customers with uninterrupted, 24/7 clean-power," said Zev Rosenzweig, AORA's CEO, an observant Jew who resides in Montreal, Canada and Israel and who made a point of stressing the Israeli expertise that made the system possible.

"Our technology and scalable solution can be easily customized for a variety of applications and environments and I believe this demonstration unit will be quickly followed by additional installations in Spain and around the world, another way Israeli creativity helps humanity."