First Hybrid Solar Power Station
Weizmann Institute created a milestone in the field of alternative energy in association with AORA. AORA is a leading Israeli solar energy technology company. It launched the world’s first hybrid solar thermal power station at Kibbutz Samar in southern Israel. During the inaugural launch of the powerhouse, guests from other countries such as Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Chile and Australia were also present. Yehoshua Fried, who is the chief executive officer of the AORA, thanked American investor Meir Reiss and Canadian Director of Corporation and Consultant to Management, Zev Rosenzweig, for believing in his dream.
Fried had believed in alternative source of energy a long time ago but he was waiting for the right kind of atmosphere to give his dream a concrete shape. Now we can see that concentrating solar power (CPS) stations can provide environmentally-friendly power 24 hours a day. AORA’s station is named as “Power Flower” because of its unique yellow tulip design. This power station is situated in an area of half an acre of land and has thirty tracking mirrors (heliostats).
Each of the thirty heliostats tracks the sun and reflects its rays towards the top of a 30 meter-high tower. This tower contains a special solar receiver along with a 100 kilowatt gas turbine. This receiver utilizes the solar energy to heat air to a temperature of 1,000 degrees Celsius. Now this heat energy is directed into the turbine, which converts the thermal energy into electric power that will be fed directly into the national grid.
The new environmental friendly power station does not use water as steam operated turbines do, and it can be constructed in several months rather than the years it takes to build other solar power stations. This power station mainly utilizes solar energy, but it can also be run on other alternative fuels, including bio-gas, bio-diesel and natural gas. They obviously act as backup plan. When sunlight is inadequate at night or on cloudy days the power station would be able to produce enough electricity to distribute. This power station has also incorporated the modular system to its greatest advantage. This makes it possible to purchase and operate as many 100-kilowatt modules as needed. A great advantage of the module system is that this system can continue its operation even if one or several modules need repair. “The size and relative price of this solar power system means it can be implemented in local as well as large-area installations,” Fried explains.
We can see that till now solar technology development was confined to small units or residences or commercial complexes. But now we can develop hybrid solar power stations to meet our energy needs. Small-scale solar thermal technology will produce 100 kW of on-demand power and 170 kW of thermal power. They are utilizing the gas turbine for improving space and energy efficiency. This will minimize the requirement of mirrors and save space. Yuval Susskin, Chief Operations Officer at AORA has plans to execute his plans in many countries.
AORA is aiming to set up power stations for small, community-sized scale that would be practical and less expensive. Susskin shares his views, “There is a chasm in the industry — between massive solar thermal [arrays] in the desert and small photovoltaic in the home because there is nothing that satisfies community-sized scale solar. No one is working on providing solar power to nearby homes.”