AORA 'power flower' solar thermal power station 390.
(photo credit: Sharon Udasin)
A team of Americans plans to bring the solar tulip technology of Yavne-based
AORA Solar to the sprawling desert of Phoenix, Arizona.
generation “power flower,” as AORA chief technology officer Pinchas Doron dubbed
the system, was launched on Tuesday at a ceremony at the Platforma Solara
Almeria research and development park in the desert hills of Andalucia, southern
Amid a sea of 52 heliostat solar panels, which revolve according
to the sun’s light along two axes, a 35-meter tulip-shaped tower holds a solar
receiver that heats the air to 1,000-degrees Celsius to power a gas turbine. The
company’s first plant opened at Kibbutz Samar in the Arava near Eilat in June
One flower alone can supply 100 kilowatts of electricity and
generate 170 kilowatts of heat energy as a byproduct, which can be used to power
external facilities such as desalination plants. Meanwhile, sitting under the
flower is a small diesel tank – which can also use natural gas or other power
sources – that switches on when night falls and the receiver is no longer
receiving solar rays, AORA CEO Zev Rosensweig told The Jerusalem Post
site on Tuesday.
By bringing two of these flowers for research and
demonstration in the arid climate Phoenix, the American collaborators will
generate 200 kilowatts of electricity at a site that can act as a model for the
US Southwest and beyond, the team said.
“They don’t have to come all the
way to Europe to see it,” said Michael Horner, CEO of Phoenix-based Sisener
Engineering NA Corp., which also has offices in Spain, Italy, Ecuador and
Horner and his colleagues have pinned down a location for the
facility in downtown Phoenix, and he said it would operate as a research and
demonstration hub not only for the US, but also for Mexico and South American
They are in negotiations with a large gas company that may fund
the venture, and Horner plans to back up his solar flowers with natural
The hope is to start with the demonstration facility and then build
a commercial version in the southwest US, Horner said.
A hybrid system
such as AORA’s is much more efficient than a similar solar-thermal system that
stores solar energy for off-hours, rather than using an alternative fuel
back-up, Horner said.
“You can have gas on site and it acts as storage,”
he said. “We think that this will provide much firmer power for utilities and
it’s obviously a scale-able size.”
Among its many potential uses, the
AORA apparatus could help in mining operations, said Scott Freymuller, of
Scottsdale, Arizona-based Young Power Equipment.
“This would be good in a
mining application where they have issues of power delivery,” he
The flexibility of the system is also a critical advantage to using
the flower, according to Freymuller, who stressed the importance of its
“constant power” function.
“This technology can operate on a stand-alone
[independent of the power grid system],” added Daniel Girard, director of
renewable energy and energy storage in the business development department of
Chicago-based S&C Electric Company.
“It can run 24 hours a day.”