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Hybrid solar plant set to generate power in Spain

CSP technology firm completes construction on Spanish solar thermal power station

The Aora Solar plant
The Aora Solar plant consists of 52 heliostats; tracking mirrors which follows the sun’s rays. The process leads to the production of electrical power

Israeli firm AORA Solar, a developer of applied ultra-high temperature concentrating solar power (CSP) technology, has completed construction on its gas turbine solar thermal power station in Spain.

The power station, which has been built in the Spanish city of Almeria, is undergoing commissioning and certification and is scheduled to begin regular power generation later this year.

The solar plant was constructed over a seven month period and is designed for a minimum economic lifespan of 25 years. It follows AORA’s first power station, which was constructed in Kibbutz Samar, Israel in 2009.

The plant consists of a field of 52 tracking mirrors called heliostats. Each heliostat follows the sun and directs its rays towards the top of a 35m-high tower, which houses a special solar receiver, along with a 100kWe gas turbine. The patented receiver uses the sun's energy to heat air to a temperature of 1,000̊C and directs this energy into the turbine. The turbine then converts this thermal energy into electric power.

In addition to producing electricity, the Almeria plant also produces 170 kW of heat as a byproduct, which will be used to power a desalination plant.

Zev Rosenzweig, AORA's CEO, said: “We are very excited to complete construction on our second power station, and we look forward to demonstrating our unique ability to provide our customers with uninterrupted, 24/7 clean-power. Our technology and scalable solution can be easily customised for a variety of applications and environments. I believe this demonstration unit will be quickly followed by additional installations in Spain and around the world.”

AORA's innovative energy generating system is designed to require less land and less water, while generating more usable power and heat than other solar energy systems.

The company's revolutionary hybrid approach enables the system to run not only on solar radiation, but on almost any alternative fuel as well, including biogas, biodiesel and natural gas.

This enables a variety of operation modes, which guarantee uninterrupted power supply 24 hours a day. This includes a solar-only mode, where electricity is supplied from ample sunlight, and a hybrid-mode, where fuel helps generate electricity when sunlight is insufficient, such as when it is cloudy. Meanwhile, a fuel-only mode is used during night hours or heavily overcast periods.

The power station's modular approach offers wide implementation options. It allows for construction in scattered locations and on sloped land, while placing less stress on the energy grid.

AORA's Almeria power station is situated on half an acre of land in Platforma Solar Almeria. This is the claimed to be the world's largest science park dedicated solely to the research and development of solar-based power-generating systems.

AORA will officially dedicate the solar plant in a special ceremony on 7 February 2012.