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AORA Slates First Off-Grid Solar-Biogas Hybrid Electricity Plant for Ethiopia

Electricity in many parts of rural Africa isn’t spoken about much because it doesn’t exist. That will soon change in Ethiopia, following AORA Solar’s agreement with the Ethiopian government to provide Africa’s first solar-biogas hybrid power solution for off-grid communities.

Too often, rural communities and villages in Africa have not been able to develop themselves due to inefficient access to electricity. This affects the daily lives of people in many ways, from lacking power to run schools, hospitals, and industry, to providing refrigeration for food processing and post-harvest storage. These communities are in need of more than part-time solar power for lights; they need holistic sustainable development.


The Ethiopian government has announced it is piloting AORA Solar’s solar-hybrid system as a part of its Climate-Resilient Green Economy Strategy Plan. AORA’s solution was selected because it is ideal for Ethiopia for several reasons:

  • 24/7 power: It can provide 24/7 uninterrupted power. During hours of sun, it functions on solar energy; at night or under cloud cover, it seamlessly transitions to running on biofuels.
  • Space efficiency: AORA takes up only 3,500 square meters, or 0.86 acres per module
  • Environmentally friendly: The system uses 8% of the water required for CSP projects, making it ideal for arid climates
  • More than power: AORA provides 100kWh of solar electricity as well as 170kW of thermal power
  • Off-grid compatibility: AORA functions independently of the grid, and does not require costly storage

Israeli-based AORA (also conducting research in the US) will be training and educating the local population to operate the Tulip, creating economic and educational opportunities for Ethiopians. Further, AORA’s system can provide utility-grade, uninterrupted electricity 24/7, which is necessary for schools, hospitals, factories, and other facilities to operate and develop.

AORA CEO Zev Rosenzweig said he is pleased to partner with the Ministry and looks forward to bringing the company’s technology to Ethiopia to provide the population with affordable access to power. “Such access will have significant social and economic impact on off-grid communities, helping to provide power to schools and medical facilities, refrigeration for food processing and post-harvest storage, groundwater pumping and much more.”

The project is tied to Ethiopia’s Climate-Resilient Green Economy Strategy, in which the country aims to enhance access to affordable and environmentally friendly renewable energy. The goal is to provide adequate uninterruptible and grid-independent power to support the achievement of middle-income status by 2025 while developing a green economy.

“We are transforming our Green Economy Strategy into action and are pleased to partner with AORA to help achieve our vision,” said H.E. Mr. 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.”

AORA Tulip in Almeria hi res

Construction of the first pilot plant is expected to begin by mid-2015. Following the trial, the Ministry intends to expand deployment of AORA installations for rural economic development to off-grid communities in selected areas of the country. The AORA Tulip technology requires less land per kWh to generate usable power and heat than other systems. Each Tulip station is small and modular, producing 100kW of electricity in addition to 170kW of heat, while occupying less than 3,500 square meters (0.86 acres).

AORA’s technology runs not only on solar radiation, but also on almost any gaseous or liquid fuel, including biogas, biodiesel, and natural gas. This enables a variety of operational modes – from solar-only mode, where electricity is supplied from ample sunlight, to hybrid-mode, where fuel helps generate full power when sunlight is insufficient, to fuel-only mode during night hours or heavily overcast periods. This guarantees an uninterrupted and stable power supply 24 hours a day in all weather conditions.

Images: AORA Solar

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Written By

is a writer, producer, and director. Meyers was editor and site director of Green Building Elements, a contributing writer for CleanTechnica, and is founder of Green Streets MediaTrain, a communications connection and eLearning hub. As an independent producer, he's been involved in the development, production and distribution of television and distance learning programs for both the education industry and corporate sector. He also is an avid gardener and loves sustainable innovation.


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