Israel develops promising combined gas-solar power plant

Mar 12, 1997 01:00 AM

Israeli scientists have developed an advanced solar-power plant, according to a report released by the Weizmann Institute of Science. The system uses special optics and an innovative air receiver to reflect, focus and convert sunlight in raising temperatures high enough to directly power gas and steam turbines in a combined cycle and thus generate electricity. The option of using either solar, gas, or a combination of the two guarantees power even under cloudy skies. The application of combined cycles assures very high efficiency in all modes of operation. Recent market assessments suggest that this new technology has broad potential for applications around the world.
The system contains a number of innovations, including a solar receiver with hundreds of ceramic pins arranged in a geometric pattern that maximises the collection and use of sunlight.
US aerospace giant McDonnell Douglas, along with Israeli Ormat Industries, Rotem Industries and the Weizmann Institute's Yeda Research and Development Company, have won a $ 5.3 mm contract to demonstrate the commercial feasibility of the system. The contract was awarded by the US-Israel Science and Technology Commission. The agreement was signed at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
The US-Israeli team will develop an operational 200 to 300 kW system to be located at the Weizmann Institute's solar research facility, called the Canadian Institute for the Energies and Applied Research, in Rehovot near Tel Aviv. Highly reflective mirrors, called heliostats, will track the sun and reflect it up to another mirror located on a central tower. This reflector will send the sunlight back down to a matrix of optical devices able to concentrate the light so that it becomes 5,000 to 10,000 times more powerful than natural sunlight reaching earth. This powerful radiation will then enter solar receivers on the ground and, in turn, heat compressed air to drive the turbogenerator to produce electricity.

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