Australian news, and some related international items

New report on the prospects for solar thermal energy

CSP: It needs a new way of thinking about energy REneweconomy, By    6 June 2012 A new report outlining the prospects of solar thermal energy has underlined its enormous potential for Australia, saying it could provide between a third and even one half of the nation’s energy needs, but notes it may require a new of thinking about energy production and delivery.

The report, entitled, “Realising the potential of Concentrating Solar Power in Australia”, says that solar thermal technology is behind wind energy and solar PV in terms of deployment and costs, but could play a critical role because it’s energy can be stored and dispatched when needed. Not only that, but Australia also as the potential to parlay its excellent R&D into a significant stake in the global supply chain, and it could even end up being an exporter of renewable energy, rather than just fossil fuels.

The report predicts that 2GW of solar thermal could be built by 2020, with 15GW deployed in the near to medium term. That would account for up to 30 per cent of the country’s total generation capacity. However, its potential could be even greater, if the best resources remote from the grid could also be tapped, it was conceivable that solar thermal could provide half of the country’s energy need by 2050.

Solar thermal is different from solar PV used in household rooftop systems because rather than using modules to generate electricity, solar thermal uses mirrors or lenses to concentrate solar energy onto a single point or linear receiver, and use that energy to create steam and drive a turbine. It also lends itself to storage, allowing energy to be dispatched at time of peak demand, or even overnight.

This report covers what is known as concenetrated solar power (CSP), which includes concentrated solar PV as well as solar thermal. Australia has been a leading innovator in CSP technology, with Ausra (now owned by Areva), pioneering the compact linear Fresnel reflector technology,  the ANU developing solar dish technology that will be used in the Whyalla Solar Oasis project, and numerous technology breakthroughs at the CSIRO solar facility near Newcastle. The first demonstration plant of Australian developed CPV technology will be unveiled in Bridgewater, Victoria, later this month……

June 6, 2012 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar |

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