Aora Solar Energy Company, formerly known as EDIG Solar, an Israeli solar power startup has launched a small 100kw hybrid solar/gas turbine system that will provide power to kibbutz Samar located in the southern desert of Israel. Besides concentrated solar energy, this hybrid power station can also run on other alternative fuels, including bio-gas, bio-diesel and natural gas.
By adding the flexibility to run the micro-turbine using an alternative energy source besides the sun this hybrid flexibility the power plant can continue to produce electricity when sunlight is insufficient, such as at night or when it is cloudy. This addresses one of the critical shortcomings inherent in solar power systems. This small scale hybrid solar/gas power plant can be run 24 hours a day and on all days whether there is sufficient sunlight or not. Because of this it may be an ideal electric energy solution for the many widely scattered small communities around the world that are currently lacking reliable electric energy and are largely disconnected from the electric grids in their regions.
The system is also designed to co-generate usable heating energy for hot water and space heating.
AORA’s “Power Flower” station is built around a solar receiving tower and was so named because its solar tower has a shape that looks like a gigantic tulip – a reminiscence that has been accentuated by painting it a bright yellow. A field of 30 tracking mirrors or heliostats is arrayed around the solar side of this tower on around a half an acre of land. Like in other solar tower systems, such as the much larger ones that have been built in Spain, this array of heliostats follows the sun through its daily arc across the sky and focuses sunlight onto a receiving surface located at the top of the tower. In this small scale solar tower the concentrated solar thermal energy is used to heat air to a temperature of 1,000 degrees Celsius. The hot air is directed through a turbine, which converts the thermal energy into electric power. The turbine in this hybrid system can also be powered by burning gas.
Aora plans to produce portable and easily assembled “LEGO-type” units that can be used to provide power for small communities and remote commercial operations. The power plant will consist of a series of base modules including the sun-tracking heliostats that concentrate the solar radiation, a Power Conversion Unit (PCU) situated at the top of the solar tower, and a micro-gas turbine that generates electricity and usable thermal energy.
© 2009, Chris de Morsella. All rights reserved. Do not republish.