Israel Brings Hybrid Solar Power To Off-Grid Locations In Ethiopia
This article was first published on The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.
Solar energy is an ideal solution for the power needs of the developing world – except for one problem: It stops working when the sun goes down, at precisely the time power is needed to turn the lights on. The solution, according to Zev Rosenzweig, CEO of Israeli energy technology company AORA, is a hybrid system – one that utilizes solar to the fullest, and supplements it with a “backup” system to keep the power flowing when the sun is not high in the sky, using scant resources, with an operating cost of next to nothing.
It’s perfect for developing countries, said Rosenzweig – and after six years of research and pilot projects, and an investment of $40 million, AORA is ready for prime time, he said.
The company announced Tuesday that it had signed a deal to build one of its Tulip solar-hybrid power plants in Ethiopia. “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.”
“Off-grid rural locations” are exactly the places Rosenzweig wants to see more Tulips installed. “Our hybrid system uses both solar power and biogas to operate a turbine, with the hot air moving the turbine to generate electricity.”
Enhancing the sunlight are a series of mirrors to heat compressed air to over 1800 degrees Fahrenheit and drive a turbine. When the sun goes down, the system moves seamlessly from solar to biogas in order to power the turbines, with the biogas derived from animal waste, biodiesel, natural gas – just about any material that can be burned for fuel.
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