I had the privilege of being at the unveiling of the first hybrid modular concentrated solar power (CSP) system to operate in Europe this week. Israeli CSP pioneer AORA had developed and launched this incredible “Tulip System” – located at the expansive Platforma Solar de Almeria (PSA) outside the southern Spanish city of Almeria. This appealing renewable energy infrastructure, using modular and affordable CSP systems, can be deployed either off-grid or on the grid.
Four things are particularly impressive regarding the launch of this particular CSP platform:
- The electricity generated from this system is regarded as “utility-grade” energy
- The system will distribute clean electricity 24/7
- In the absence of sunshine, electricity is still generated
- The entire plant is a compact modular design
As Pinchas Doron, AORA’s chief technology officer, said, “It’s not a power plant, it’s an energy solution.” This technology is unprecedented and may be the solution to numerous energy requirements worldwide.
Tulip’s solar thermal technology has been configured in compact, modular units of 100kWe each. The net result is a scalable model, which can be configured for many different applications, and budgets.
As Donon pointed out, developers will be able to build renewable energy solutions in phases, without having to go through extraordinary financial stages required for building most renewable energy systems, especially ones that can deliver utility grade electricity.
AORA puts it this way:
“The modularity of the system enables a constant supply of electricity, even while individual units are undergoing repairs or routine maintenance.”
The Tulip can operate 24/7 by using alternative fuels to continue powering the micro turbine housed on the inside of the tulip. As such, quick response heat augmentation provides a constant in heat input to the turbine that produces electricity.
The Tulip is fed by 52 tracking mirrors – commonly referred to as heliostats – which are located on 2,000 square meters, or about half an acre. The tower has a height of 35 meters (about 120 feet).
The Tulip may be a first for Europe, but a predecessor to the Almeria platform already operates in Israel and feeds power to the grid, says Doron.
More will be written in coming posts about the impressive Tulip system, including detailed looks at how this solar technology operates, how much it costs, and where it might next be seen.
Photos: GR Meyers
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