Major CSIRO solar breakthrough underlines ARENA’s worth

CSIRO solar tower with mirror array.

These mirrors at CSIRO in Newcastle can focus the sun to create superheated steam. That is the same pressure and temperature of steam that a coal or nuclear fired power plant creates. Amazing. Picture credit: CSIRO

Further evidence emerged this week from the CSIRO of the value of the embattled Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to the nation. ARENA, you may well recall, is at the centre of the current government’s ideological campaign against renewable energy with its very existence now in doubt through savage proposed budget cuts.

The breakthrough was the successful heating of steam to a supercritical temperature using solar energy. Supercritical steam is very high temperature and high pressure steam, that is needed to run electricity generating turbines efficiently. Essentially this means that we can now use the sun to drive conventional electricity turbines, like those found in a coal fired or even nuclear power station. This development has the potential to be a “gamechanger” in the way we generate electricity, according to the CSIRO. [Read more…]

Solar power innovation (part two): solar power satellites

Last week we took the quantum leap into the inestimably small applications of solar power innovation by bringing you up to date on quantum dots and solar windows. The article was a solar squizz at how the latest developments in nano technology have brought the concept of windows as solar panels just that one tantalisingly step closer. [Read more…]

Google’s solar power investment proves world’s best brains back renewables

google search for solarThe search engine giant Google — and more specifically Google solar power — is the subject of this week’s rant folks.

There comes a time when the most radical science drifts into the mainstream and becomes accepted as fact or a viable alternative to the present way of doing things. Sometimes this happens almost unnoticed, at least by the community at large, such as the move in thinking from the “steady state” theory of the existence of the universe (back in the day!) to that of the Big Bang. [Read more…]

Where is the world’s largest proposed utility scale solar project?

solar panels in a field

How big can a solar farm get?

If you were thrown a curly question, say in a solar-powered themed pub quiz, about which country was proposing to build the world’s largest utility scale solar project, how would you answer?

China may well be your first choice. With the People’s Republic leading the world in driving down the cost of solar through cheaper solar panels and placing great emphasis on developing alternatives to its coal-based economy, you’d think this was a sure bet.

But no. [Read more…]

Has the start of construction of utility scale solar at Nyngan proved ARENA’s worth?

utility scale solar

Coming soon to a field in Nyngan.

The start of construction of Australia’s largest utility scale solar project has demonstrated that the country is serious about large-scale solar. However it throws up an uncomfortable truth in the halls of power in Canberra and the cabinet rooms of their state counterparts.

News that construction had started on the country’s largest utility scale solar power project at Nyngan, in country NSW was a breakthrough not just for the local community, but for the country’s solar power sector. The US-based First Solar, which is one of the world’s leaders in supplying thin film solar panels, began the building of the mammoth (for Australia) solar power plant in January. [Read more…]

Solar nark’s worst nightmare: Saudi Arabia solar power project ushers in renewable era

oil and solar in the desert

The balance has tipped in favour of solar in Saudi Arabia.

We’ve mentioned before about the huge movement overseas towards a renewable energy future and this includes the home of one-fifth of the world’s proven oil reserves — Saudi Arabia. For many, Saudi Arabia symbolises opulent oil wealth, a desert kingdom so awash in the black stuff that fortunes are measured in billions not millions.

All presided over by the astute al-Saud clan.

Which brings us neatly to this week’s rant. The latest Saudi Arabia solar power project is part of a massive $US100 billion investment in solar energy which will deliver an estimated 41 GW of renewable energy by 2032. According to this 21/1/2014 SMH article, Saudi company Abdul Latif Jameel has teamed up with Spain’s Fotowatio Renewable Ventures in a three-year venture to build solar power plants worth $US130 million each in the desert kingdom and the Gulf region.

This prompts the question: have the oil sheikhs seen the renewable writing on the wall? Or is there one hell of a peak oil crisis on its way, perhaps a lot earlier than we think?

[Read more…]

Tonga gets a solar power plant for Christmas

gift wrapped solar panel

Tonga got a few thousand of these for Christmas!

It’s the time of giving, of peace and understanding towards all nations (in theory anyway) but what do you give the country that has everything: sun, beaches, lovely people etc? Why solar power plants of course.

That is exactly the gift the Japanese government has given the beautiful island nation of Tonga according to press reports this week. According to the Tonga Power Limited, “… the Japanese Government through the Japanese International Cooperation Association (JICA) agreed to provide full grant funding for the Vaini solar project in Tongatapu.” [Read more…]

Japan puts solar on the moon to solve the world’s energy needs.


Build A Rocket Boys!

As regular readers will have picked up, here at SQHQ we enjoy covering the latest innovation in alternative energy sources. Last week we brought you the wonderful work being done in fundraising for solar power by CORENA (Citizens Own Renewable Energy Network Australia). CORENA’s ethos of operating through small, community-based donations for solar projects is close to our heart here at the SQHQ bunker.

However this week we’re going the big picture. The bloody BIG picture.

We’re talking of a project to solve the world’s energy problems by putting a solar power plant on the Moon.

That’s right and with many interesting ideas that come from left field, this one comes from the land of the rising solar energy source: Japan. [Read more…]

Solar storage breakthrough spoils nark’s party

solar power station and solar nark

Solar has gone 24/7 – and on a massive scale.

When it comes to policy backflips on alternative energy sources it’s been a nark’s world here in Australia. It would be incorrect to generalise, but I’m going to anyway; there is now a preponderance of knuckle-dragging, climate deniers in office in state and federal governments. Many of whom are looking to increase subsidies to their favourite fossil fuel energy source of choice and winding back any previous legislation that could be called remotely progressive. [Read more…]

Footy finals and photovoltaics: when too much sun and sports is barely enough

solar stadium

Sports stadiums are going solar.

Laid low for the past week with a virus readers. Unkind friends have called it footy finals fever which seems to strike your sports-mad correspondent at this time every year. But with the excitement of the AFL final series (just completed) and last weekend’s Rugby League finals, with a touch of netball, Rugby Union and A-League pre-season included, perhaps they have a case? What a great way then to introduce the rising use of photovoltaics in sports stadiums. [Read more…]

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