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Brenmiller Energy to Start Israeli Pilot Plant Next Month

Brenmiller Energy, an Israeli solar-thermal developer founded last year, plans to start operating a pilot plant in December that will use fuel cells to store power.

Testing will run as long as three months while the Tel Aviv-based company works to raise $50 million for a full-scale factory and marketing, Chief Executive Officer Avi Brenmiller said by phone. “We want to commercialize and industrialize.”

Solar-thermal power, or concentrated solar, plants use mirrors that focus sunlight to produce steam and drive turbines. Unlike photovoltaic plants, which run intermittently, they can store energy, supplying customers around the clock. Fuel cells differ from standard storage systems, which use molten salts.

Brenmiller Energy’s storage technology will be less expensive than competitors’ because the materials used are cheaper, the CEO said, declining to identify them. The executive is the former head of Solel Solar Systems, acquired by Siemens AG in 2009 for about $400 million.

Israel is expanding its solar industry to meet electricity demand while curbing reliance on fossil fuels. While some solar-thermal plants are added on to operating power stations, demand for stand-alone facilities has grown in off-grid rural areas.

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