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World-renowned solar expert joins Australian research initiative

7th Feb 2013

An international expert who will head a solar research initiative for Australia's national science agency hopes to take advantage of both our climate and technological expertise to drive big advances in the field of solar.

Dr Manuel J Blanco has joined CSIRO as the director of the Australian Solar Thermal Research Initiative (ASTRI), an $87 million international collaboration to bring down the cost of solar thermal.

And he's no shrinking violet either. Dr Blanco has nearly three decades experience and is a world-renowned solar scientist.

Before this latest role, he was director of the Solar Thermal Energy Department at Spain's National Renewable Energy Centre (CENER).

In a statement released February 4, the Spaniard said that ASTRI is aiming for a price of just 12 cents a kilowatt hour by the end of the decade.

He said it would require a technological leap to provide zero-emission technology to people when they need it, but that the scientists taking part were "the best in the world".

"Australia has one of the best solar resources in the world," said Dr Blanco.

"It is a natural fit for an international solar thermal research collaboration to use this resource and our expertise to make solar power the cheapest, cleanest energy source it can be."

ASTRI is an eight year international collaboration which draws together leading researchers from six Australian universities, as well as from educational facilities and research labs in the United States.

Four solar thermal research nodes will investigate ways of reducing capital expenditure, increasing capacity, improving efficiency and adding product value.

Any improvement in the efficiency and affordability of solar thermal is sure to have positive flow-on effects for the development of further advancements in solar PV technology, as innovative research finds its way to the manufacturing sphere.

Posted by Mike Peacock

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