Solar intermittency can be managed: CSIRO report

Sun and clouds

Do those pesky clouds mean we can’t use solar as base load power?

One of the chief criticisms fossil fuel narks level against solar power is its alleged inability to provide baseload power. This is defined as the minimum amount of energy needed over a 24 hour period to satisfy the utility’s customers. What about cloud cover? This is the critics’ plaintive cry and rallying point as they call for further subsidies for their beloved, earth-destroying coal and oil fuelled energy sources.

They have a point though, what of cloud cover (known as solar intermittency) reducing solar’s effectiveness? According to the aforementioned narks, solar power is unable to provide energy reliability due to this factor preventing the full exploitation of the sun’s energy potential and therefore cannot be considered a reliable form of energy. [Read more…]

Silex steals the solar show

solar concentrator mock up

We mocked up Silex solar’s concentrating solar technology in the SolarQuotes garden using our unwanted Shannon Noll Cds.

Good news stories about the Australian solar industry have been as rare as hen’s teeth lately. With the taking of the cudgels by state governments to the highly successful feed-in tariffs (can someone please explain that again — just one more time!), to the slow sinking of the fed’s Solar Flagships program, to the march out the door of Australian solar manufacturers, its been a grim time for solar fans.

[Read more…]

What is solar tower technology?

News that the Perth-based renewable energy company Hyperion Energy is planning to build a solar tower in mid-west Western Australia sent your correspondent scurrying to the research files this week.

According to the company website, Hyperion have purchased a 127,000 hectare site near the town of Tuckanarra. The site is near mines and an airport and is judged to have a low risk of natural disasters such as earthquakes or cyclones. Chiefly though, the main advantage of the site for the location of a solar tower is the “horizon solar radiation of 2300MJ/m2” (read huge), according to the company.

The theory behind the solar tower technology sounds simple enough. A flat, large expanse of a greenhouse-like material is spread around the base of a tall tower. When the sun heats the air under the material it rises (remember your science?) and as such has only one place where it can go: the central solar tower (see diagram). The hot air is forced through the narrow space of the tower where it causes a wind which turns a number of turbines inside the tower.


Diagram showing how a solar tower works.

Hyperion points to three key advantages of solar tower technology over other forms of tapping the sun’s energy.

[Read more…]

AuSES-sponsored Conference Spins the Big Solar Wheel

Two of the key issues covered this week at the Solar 2011 conference have been (1) the growing affordability of solar systems for both domestic and commercial outlooks as prices plummet, and (2) the growth of international large-scale solar projects. The first has been made possible by the growth of the Chinese solar energy sector and has made cheap solar panels available to Australian households and businesses.

However are we likely to see massive scale projects backed by the federal government in this country? Well yes if the event organisers have their way. [Read more…]

Will Port Augusta Point the Way to the Future of Solar Power?

This week’s column will take you into the realms of fantasy (if you’re a talk radio shock jock or anti-renewable pollie). Yes folks we’re treading into the dangerous territory of the concept of solar energy as baseload electricity.

For years one of the constant carping criticisms aimed at renewable energy in this country has been that it won’t provide baseload power resource in the same way as good ole fossil fuel-derived power. The argument goes that when the sun stops shining, or the wind stops blowing, renewable energy cannot deliver.

While the criticism may well have been a smokescreen thrown up to keep high polluting coal plants in operation, the point is valid: how can you rely on a source of energy if the power it creates cannot be stored?

[Read more…]

Clean Energy Council Puts Roadmap in Government’s Solar Glovebox

By Rich Bowden

Mirror, mirror on the wall who’s got the most sunshine of them all?

It’s a no-brainer right?

Australia is one of the most blessed countries in the world with regard to availability of solar power and solar intensity. We, along with the United States, are considered to have the greatest potential for the exploitation of solar energy in the world. So why has domestic policy not taken advantage of this? Why are governments, both state and federal, backpedalling from supporting solar energy initiatives?

This was the conundrum most recently outlined by the Clean Energy Council in their report released last week in their (unimaginatively named) Large scale< Solar Energy Roadmap).

“Australia has the highest average solar radiation per square meter of any continent in the world, yet to date we have not capitalised on the potential benefits of large-scale solar,” said the report. “The uptake and deployment of solar energy technologies globally remains dependant largely on domestic policy settings.” [Read more…]

Port Augusta Set To Be Green Energy Hub

The Clean Energy Council of Australia is excited about the green energy prospects for Port Augusta, SA, and with good reason, because according to Rob Jackson the general manager the discovery of a bed of rocks that are naturally heated-hot rocks- in Port Augusta paves the way for increased geothermal production. [Read more…]

Massive solar plant to electrify the town of Public Servants

The selection process begins next month for the proposed Solar Plant within the Australian Capital Territory. Several appropriate sites within the ACT have been identified by the Government and will be named at the beginning of the selection.

The Government has stated the new Solar Power Plant will have to produce a minimum amount of energy of 22 megawatts which is enough to provide the energy for ten thousand houses. A $30 million subsidy is being offered by the Government for the construction of the plant which should be situated in the ACT.

[Read more…]

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