Clean Power

Published on February 26th, 2015 | by Glenn Meyers


AORA Solar & Ethiopia Delegation Meet In Spain On Solar Energy Collaboration

February 26th, 2015 by  

Last December, I covered AORA Solar and Ethiopia about a preliminary agreement with the Ethiopian government to pilot AORA’s Tulip solar-hybrid system.

AORA’s solution functions on sunlight during the day, and seamlessly switches to run on bio-fuels at night or under cloud cover to provide 24/7 utility-grade energy.

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AORA Solar’s Chief Technology Officer Dr. Pinchas Doron demonstrates to the Ethiopian delegation the computerized control system.

To that end, a delegation from Ethiopia comprised of government officials from the Ethiopian Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy, the Ethiopian Energy Authority, as well as academics from two of Ethiopia’s leading universities, visited AORA’s Spain operation to learn more about AORA’s technology, how it can enrich and partner with Ethiopia’s academic institutions, and how it can benefit the rural locations throughout the country.

AORA Solar, a leading developer of solar-biogas hybrid power technology, today announced the visit of a delegation comprised of officials from the Ethiopian Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy, the Ethiopian Energy Authority as well as academics from Ethiopian universities. The visit provided Ethiopian officials the opportunity to learn more about the technology and the added value the innovation can bring to both Ethiopia’s academic institutions and to rural locations where AORA’s Tulip system is well-suited to operate.

For a country like Ethiopia, a major part of piloting AORA’s system is creating opportunities for sustainable development. That means becoming a true and active partner in understanding, developing and applying the technology.

In a press announcement, we heard from members of the Ethiopian delegation, including Mintesnot Gizaw Terefe, the Associate Dean and Lecturer for the school of Energy Resource and Environmental Engineering at Addis Ababa University of Science and Technology:

This project is about more than electricity – it is about solar energy collaboration. Universities in developing countries have a mandate to serve local communities through researching and adapting technologies to address local problems. The Tulip is one such promising technology capable of doing so.

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Members from the Ethiopian delegation

The visit comes on the heels of a partnership announcement between AORA Solar and the Ethiopian Government to pilot two AORA solar-hybrid systems at Addis Ababa University of Science and Technology and Adama Science and Technology University.

Tafesse Asrat Abera, an AISE Expert in Power Electronics and Off-Grid Photo Voltaic Systems at Adama Science and Technology University noted, “The Tulip encompasses a multi-disciplinary approach and therefore allows for numerous opportunities for student engagement. This involvement of the university in project development adds another dimension – process learning.”

“Collaboration with local institutions is exactly what we are aiming for in making the Tulip accessible to developing nations,” said Zev Rosenzweig, CEO of AORA Solar. “This activity complements our goal of creating opportunities for sustainable development.”

The delegation was afforded an opportunity to view the solar receiver and turbine at the top of the AORA Tulip tower, the heliostats on the ground, and the sophisticated control system.  As a result of the visit, the Ethiopians will now have a sharper understanding of how this innovative technology functions, and they will be in a better position to prepare for project implementation, including a feasibility study that is scheduled to begin in a few weeks.

The initiative complements AORA’s partnership with Arizona State University where installation of a Tulip is now underway. Discussions have started on possibilities of linking renewable energy research between the universities.

Ethiopia launched the Climate Resilient Green Economy Strategy in November 2011, which aims to achieve the development objective of being a middle-income nation by 2025. The Strategy’s four pillars include the generation of energy from renewable sources for domestic and regional markets.

What follows is an interview I conducted with Barry Kulick, senior vice president, AORA-Africa.

CleanTechnica:  Can you provide a timeline and location for the two AORA Tulip locations?

Kulick: It is anticipated that the feasibility study will commence around March, 2015, and will take about 3 months to complete. The construction will take about 6 months to complete depending upon the terrain and location. The two favored locations are Addis Ababa Science and Technology University and Adama Science and Technology University.

CleanTechnica: How long will each system take to build and will local personnel be trained?

Kulick: Each system will take about 6 to 9 months to build. Local personnel will most certainly be trained because we anticipate developing a motivated, committed and skill based workforce to service and promote the Tulip.

CleanTechnica: Will materials be local or imported?

Kulick: We hope to create jobs by manufacturing as many materials as possible in Ethiopia. For example, we should be able to manufacture the steel for the Tulip structure locally. Some specialized parts will need to be imported, but the goal is to have as much done locally as possible.

CleanTechnica: Does the Tulip system perform on a cloudy day?

Kulick: The Tulip provides grid stable power 24/7 in all weather. The technology is a solar hybrid, which provides light and power when the sun is working, but seamlessly is taken over by biofuel when the sun is under cloud cover or at night to provide uninterrupted grid stable power.

CleanTechnica: What role will universities have on these projects?

Kulick: The universities will have a crucial role to play using the Tulip as a platform from which to launch solar energy research, testing energy applications and developments in Ethiopia, and establishing faculty exchanges for these purposes with Arizona State University.

On a concluding note, having access to off-grid 24/7 electrical power plant is tremendously exciting news for many locations in Africa. I look forward to reporting on the development of these project. Here is a snapshot of what AORA Solar offers:

AORA Solar develops solar-biogas hybrid power technology that specializes in small-scale off-grid solutions. AORA’s flexible power stations operate on both sunlight and biogas (or other alternative fuel sources) in order to supply uninterrupted green power 24hrs/day. Each AORA station produces 100 KW of energy and 170 kW of heat as a by-product, which may be used for a variety of heating and cooling applications for agricultural, industrial or domestic use. AORA stations occupy just a half-acre of land and may be standalone or linked together into centrally controlled power plants for increased output. 

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About the Author

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.

  • JamesWimberley

    I hope the Ethiopians are keeping their b/s detectors on high. This innovation may be good for them, but not at all necessarily. Producing 24/7 power on a single site using two technologies (solar and biomass) replicates the obsolete “baseload” model, but surely at extra expense. Remember that Ethiopia sits on top of the Rift and has enormous reserves of accessible and despatchable geothermal power, and the model of its neighbour Kenya to follow. 24/7 availability is always a requirement for the grid, not a single generator. The efficient way to meet it will normally be with a mix of separately optimised types of plant.

    • Ronald Brakels

      An off grid hybrid solar power system running off local biomass when the sun isn’t available could be just what the donkey ordered. For one thing it could be very useful in Australia for taking small rural communities off grid and powering off grid mines (people ones where local farmers exist to provide biomass, and they’re often there). But for on grid power, point of use PV followed by utility scale PV is the proven, ultra-reliable method of generating electricity from the sun that definitely has the economic upper hand at the moment. But this is just a pilot project and if it works out for off grid use it could be a great boon for a great many people.

      • Ronald Brakels

        Yes, the reality does seem to be bottled LPG for when there’s no sunshine since piggeries tend to be very thin on the ground in Ethiopia and so a steady source of biogas is unlikely to be found without considerable investment, but that doesn’t mean it still can’t be useful or that it would not be possible to makes ones that use solid biomass.

  • They don’t need to say “biofuels” for an alternative generation source. That sounds marketing-esque. Just say whatever fuel is available at the lowest cost. For instance, let’s say Ethiopia has access to natural gas – regardless of source. Instead of needing lot and lots, they may only need a small percentage with the Tulip system – compared to a dual cycle gas turbine plant. On the other hand, if biomass is readily available and wouldn’t impede agriculture for food, then that’s a good source. From my perspective, this technology seems easy and that’s good. For anything to work without an army of IT support and engineering staff, it must be simple.

    • Ronald Brakels

      I’ll just mention that currently the most efficient agricultural use of land to obtain food in the Ethiopia is to grow coffee and then use the foreign exchange obtained from exporting it to purchase grain from the Ukraine or other the countries. Currently a significant amount of the foreign exchange from selling coffee is used to purchase diesel. Anything that decreases diesel use in the Ethiopa, including the use of biomass, technically increases its ability to purchase grain from other the countries, although it doesn’t mean more grain will be purchased. It could instead be spent on Pokemon or liposuction machines.

      This may seem strange, but it’s the way of the world.

      Another thing that may seem strange is that the Ukraine is much more productive at producing grain than the Ethiopia when the Ethiopia has higher average rainfall, but other factors, such as soil or lack thereof, come into play.

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