District energy for the Facebook generation

Aora Solar Ltd. is aiming to win clients from the “Facebook generation” with community-scale generators that double as giant sculptures and are capable of district energy provision.

The facilities, which use a combination of mirrors and fuels such as natural gas or biomass to generate 100 kilowatts of power, combine style and function to persuade design- conscious consumers to erect generators close to their homes, Designer Haim Dotan said at the inauguration of the company’s second plant.

“This project should be put on Facebook so all the children of the world can see it, not only in professional magazines,” said Dotan, who also designed Israel’s pavilion at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai. “Beauty doesn’t mean that it’s more expensive. It’s down to fun and hard work.”

Aora this month began feeding power to the grid from its second prototype plant in Almeria, southern Spain, and aims to install about 50 generators this year, Chief Executive Officer Zev Rosenzweig said.

Rosenzweig said the technology can supply power to small communities or business or directly to power companies. Aora is in talks with an architect in California who wants to build one $555,000 plant as the power source for a 60-home development that will be independent of the power grid.

A dairy cooperative in Spain is also considering building a tulip and using its excess heat for pasteurizing milk and, through a technique called absorption chilling, to cool the processed milk while producing biogas for the burner from its cow dung.

“It’s a closed loop,” Rosenzweig said. “Anything that comes out of the cow goes back” into the cycle.

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