AORA to build its first commercial CSP plant in Ethiopia

Published on: Wednesday, 03 December 2014
AORA to build its first commercial CSP plant in Ethiopia

AORA Solar, the israeli firm focused on hybrid solar-gas CSP systems has announced a deal has been signed to build a plant in Ethiopia.

AORA's system, known as the Solar Tulip, is a small-scale, modular plant comprising a tower and a bunch of heliostats which can be run on solar, gas, diesel, biogas, biodiesel of LPG. The key point is its ability to use either solar, fuel or a mix of both, allowing it to run 24/7. The solar receiver uses compressed air as heat transfer fluid to run a turbine.

“Our hybrid system uses both solar power and biogas to operate a turbine, with the hot air moving the turbine to generate electricity", says Zev Rosenzweig, CEO of AORA Solar, a feature that makes the system idela for off-grid and rural locations.

The Solar Tulip has a minimun water consumption, "unlike other solar thermal systems that use steam to drive large turbines, Tulip uses hot air to power microturbines, requiring just 8% of the amount of water that CSP steam technologies consume. The water that AORA uses cools turbine intake air above 35°C", the company states in its website.

We are transforming our Green Economy Strategy into action and are pleased to partner with AORA to help achieve our vision,” said Alemayehu Tegenu, Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy for Ethiopia. “AORA’s unique solar-hybrid technology is impressive and well-suited to provide both energy and heat to support local economic development in off-grid rural locations in Ethiopia.”

The company has built pilot plants in Israel, Spain and the US. Now, after six years of developmente, the first commercial plant will be installed in Ethiopia with construction sheduled for mid-2015.

If succesfully tried this first plant, the Ethiopian ministry is planning to expand installation of more systems throughout the country in off-grid communities.

According to company's specs, each Tulip generates 100 kW of electricity and 170 kW of heat, enough to power a 60-80 homes community. The footprint is nearly 2000 square metre per unit, this makes it suitable for almost any location with a moderately flat area. Construction time for each unit is about 6 months. The cost per unit is between $500,000 and $750,000.

The system is extremely versatile as it can be used to generate electricity and heat and therefore use it not also for cooling or desalination.

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