January 14th, 2015 by Glenn Meyers
Final construction of AORA Solar’s 24/7 solar energy/biofuel power plant being built in partnership with Arizona State University, although nearly one year behind schedule, is expected to be operational in September.
“It’s going much slower than we had hoped,” said AORA Solar CEO Zev Rosenzweig in an interview. “Our plant is designed to European standards. We had a hard time finding a vendor in the US who could build the steel tower to metric dimensions.”
According to Rosenzweig, the ASU project proved so difficult and expensive that the Israeli company gave up on trying to make it in the US and used a regular vendor in Portugal.
In addition, AORA needed to have a registered Arizona engineer check the design. “Not a problem,” said Rosenzweig, “but ASU has an additional requirement where they need to have a registered engineer witness the steel being made, watch it being rolled.” This detail added about two to three months to the schedule.
AORA Solar also needed to get the CEC turbine inspected to make sure it did not violate any American regulations. American companies working overseas can no doubt attest to the challenge of developing similar new projects. The company also learned that Arizona project land must be inspected to ensure Native American remains aren’t disturbed.
Rosenzweig has taken a philosophical, if not stoic, attitude about this inaugural undertaking with the 24/7 solar energy/biofuel power plant. “We’re kind of learning the hard way going from one jurisdiction to another. I look at it as a learning experience.”
He has had to advise investors that the project is over budget; and meet with university staff who are upset everything is running late. “But this is reality in doing work in a jurisdiction we’ve never operated in before.”