US_Israeli group testing solar plant

McDonnell Douglas and Israel`s Ormat Industries Ltd., Rotem Industries Ltd. and the Weizmann Institute of Science have been awarded (US)$5.3 million by the U.S.-Israel Science and Technology Commission to jointly demonstrate the commercial feasibility of an advanced solar-power plant capable of generating from hundreds of kilowatts to tens of megawatts of power.

The system uses special optics and an air receiver developed by the Weizmann Institute. These reflect, concentrate and convert sunlight to provide the heat necessary to directly power gas and steam turbines in combined-cycle, generating electricity. The ability to operate on solar, gas or a combination of the two will provide operational flexibility, especially during inclement weather.

The US-Israeli team has less than three years to develop an operational 200 to 300 kW system to be located at the Weizmann Institute`s solar research facility, the Canadian Institute for the Energies and Applied Research.

The system will be equipped with heliostats to track the sun in two axes and reflect sunlight up to another reflector on a central tower. This reflector will then redirect the sunlight back down to a matrix of optical concentrators, capable of concentrating the light 5,000 to 10,000 times compared to natural sunlight. The concentrated radiation will then enter a group of solar receivers on the ground, which will heat compressed air to drive the turbogenerator.

Based on technologies to be tested and developed in this project, larger scale commercial power stations are expected to be set up in the future.