Ethiopia, on a mission to become carbon neutral by 2025, recently enlisted the help of giant solar tulips to reach its eco-friendly goal.
The country partnered with AORA Solar, clean tech company and developer of a modular solar-hybrid systems, to develop a flower power plant.
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Each plant consists of a tower surrounded by a field of mirrors designed to track the sun. The mirrors reflect the sun's rays up onto the tower's "bulb." As intense sunlight heats the air inside the bulb to extremely high temperatures, water stored there boils and the steam is used to turn a turbine generator.
Even when sunlight isn't available, the tulip's turbine can operate on alternative fuel, such as natural gas, producing uninterrupted utility grade power to help maintain stability in the grid.
Each plant has an output capacity of 100 kilowatts-equivalent, which is enough to power roughly 60 to 80 homes.
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AORA is also collaborating with two Ethiopian universities to help advance renewable technology education within the country. This initiative will include installing solar tulips on-site at the universities and serving local communities by improving existing technologies.
Ethiopia isn't the first country to install these elegant-looking solar tulip towers. China, Israel and Spain, for example, have turned on tulip towers for energy, and more recently, plans have sprouted to install a solar tulip at Arizona State University - which will mark the first solar tulip in the United States.
Perhaps researchers are planting a seed for more solar tulips to flourish in the future.