Thursday, 28 June 2007

ANU - Solar Thermal Prototype

I've said before that I favour solar power.

The ABC is reporting on a demonstration project at the ANU in Canberra.

While I wish the involved scientists, engineers and technicians only the best of luck, my principal concern is that the technology is in its infancy (in technical terms, the prototype/demonstration phase). Issues remain to be address such as how much capacity (vs. a given unit/facility's rated power) can be reliably provided? How will energy be stored for cloudy days and/or nighttime?

It's unfortunate the writer ends the article with a quote setting up a comparison between solar and nuclear (on cost). Personally I look forward to cost competitive and reliable solar technologies that will work WITH nuclear and other sources of no/low emissions energy to help Australia achieve our energy goals.


  1. It is nonsense to say of CSP that "the technology is in its infancy". New plants are now being planned, built or up and running in many different parts of the world. With systems for storing solar heat and hybridisation with gas-firing (as backup), CSP plants can provide any combination of base load, intermediate load or peaking power. Nuclear power is very inflexible and can only provide base load.

    There is a lot more information on

  2. Hi Gerry,

    The article linked in the post says, "Currently the ANU is working on an improved prototype which the university hopes will be finished early next year."

    I never said anything about all of CSP in general. In fact I linked a post just days ago about a CSP plant startup in the USA.

    I look forward to the day when the 'gas-fired' backup requirements are done away with.

    I'm really quite in favour of solar. But despite the 'plants now being planned, built or up and running in many different parts of the world' can find no countries using solar to effectively manage their emissions. If you have such evidence, please provide it.

    With respect to nuclear accomplishing just that (battling emissions) - please refer to another post I made a short time ago.

    I believe it is for this reason, reports addressing credible approaches to climate change mitigation leave solar off the list of 'mature' technologies capable of providing large, reliable supplies of energy. It seems to be a demonstration issue. Where can one get the performance data for these plants? Rated capacity vs. actual? MWe from gas vs. MWe from the sun? How does plant performance change over time? What are the maintenance costs? How fast do systems degrade? etc.

    Despite the way it may be interpreted, I'm not saying solar can't do the job - only that I have seen no evidence to be convinced.

    I checked the linked web page from your comment - and again see words against nuclear. This really baffles me. Is nuclear contributing to anyone's demise? How about a link saying 'Why we don't need (or maybe need considerably less) fossil fuel'? Why not focus on the real issue? Or could you be more interested in obtaining funding for CSP projects than reducing fossil emission?

    Do you have a vested interest in CSP? Your post rang a bell, so I did a search. I see similar posts at NEI, another here and still others that I could post but won't.

    Why don't you start a CSP blog?