Concentrated solar thermal

Solar thermal is coming. But where will it land?

By Stephen Bygrave. Climate Spectator, January 30 2014.

With the news that Chile is to join the solar thermal club, Australia could before long become the only inhabited continent without this revolutionary electricity generation technology.

Spanish developer Abengoa is set to build a large solar thermal 'power tower' with a capacity of 110 megawatts for the Chilean government. Solar thermal plants already exist or are actively being developed and constructed, on all other continents.

The solar thermal technology concentrates the sun's free energy with a field of mirrors onto a heat receiver mounted on a central tower, and then uses that heat to generate electricity, and also stores the heat to generate electricity after sundown. The Chilean plant is to have storage capacity for 17.5 hours of operation after sundown, enabling it to provide 24-hour solar power.

That a poorer country like Chile is now building this technology highlights that a wealthy country like Australia should also be building this technology. Figures from the Bureau of Resource and Energy Economics in December show the estimated cost of building solar thermal power plants has fallen 30 per cent in the last year.

Abengoa's 183MW Solucar complex, Seville, Spain. Pic: Abengoa

ARENA, Alinta agree funds for Port Augusta solar thermal study

By Giles Parkinson. RenewEconomy, 15 January 2014

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency has finally come to an agreement with the privately-owned Alinta to co-fund a feasibility study into a solar thermal power station to augment or replace the existing coal fired generators in the South Australian township of Port Augusta.

ARENA announced on Wednesday it would contribute $1million to the study, with $1.2 million to come from Alinta and a further $123,000 from the state government.

However, the study would not conclude until 2016, which may dash hopes for an earlier start to the project and a near-term replacement for the ageing Playford and Northern coal-fired power stations. Alinta recently said it wanted to extend the life of its two coal fired power stations for another two decades.

Ivanpah solar thermal plant, California. Pic: Chad Ward/Brightsource

Living Green: Power in Renewables

Dr. Jenny Riesz, Newcastle Herald, Sept. 8, 2013

THE Australian Energy Market Operator released a landmark study last month, showing that Australia could reliably supply 100 per cent of its power needs from renewable energy.

AEMO is the organisation responsible for "keeping the lights on" for the entire east coast of Australia, so its assessment is comprehensive and conservative. This means its determination that 100 per cent renewable energy is feasible carries a hefty credibility.

Election Edition


Welcome to Beyond Zero's Election Edition, where Vivien Langford talks to the three major political parties about their policies on climate change.

Greg Hunt, Liberal MP, Shadow Minister for Climate Change Action, Environment and Heritage

Yvette D'Ath, Labour MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and

Christine Milne, Greens senator, leader of the Australian Greens.

Greg Hunt - Yvette D'Ath - Christine Milne - Interviews

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Dr Jenny Riesz examines policies to realise 100% renewable energy

Dr Jenny Riesz is a research associate with the Centre for Energy and Environmental Markets (CEEM), at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), based in Sydney, Australia. Dr Reisz’s research examines high penetration renewable power systems, with a particular focus on the design and operation of electricity markets.

She talks to Beyond Zero's Anthony and Matt about the 100% renewable energy models for Australia by Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), UNSW and BZE, and the combinations of renewable energy mixes required. It's critical to transfer away from coal fired power to renewables and entirely fesible to expand the Renewable Energy Target (RET) to 90% renewables by 2030, as proposed by the Greens in the upcoming election. 

Interview - Dr Jenny Riesz

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Let's power ahead with solar options

AUSTRALIA'S energy mix is at a crossroads - and neither political party is helping properly, writes Dan Spencer.

AUSTRALIA'S energy mix is at a crossroads.

Nowhere is this better seen than in Port Augusta, where the town's ageing coal-fired power stations are coming to the end of their life and the community, backed by people across the state, is campaigning for a solar thermal replacement.

The recent debate around the Clean Energy Finance Corporation means this crossroads has a major roadblock. As September 14 nears, politicians and Australian voters need to remember whose future they are shaping at the polls: that of young people and future generations.

Sadly, one of the issues being most politicised this election will directly impact on the lives of young people: how we choose to act on climate change. Not only is support for action on climate change increasingly divided along party lines, there is a stark gap between old and young.

Polling released in the past few days by Essential Research made this divide clear. Among under-35s, 52 per cent of people support carbon pricing and only 25 per cent oppose it. This is remarkably resilient majority support for a policy that has been consistently denigrated since it was introduced.

Sadly, this level of support is not reflected in people over 55, where only 39 per cent support carbon pricing, with 56 per cent opposed.

Australia’s first solar towers are not yet built, but they have a name

The construction of what could be Australia’s first stand alone solar thermal power station has not even been agreed, but it has been named.


Solar campaigner dies

Joy Baluch the mayor of South Australia's Port Augusta, who campaigned for solar energy for her city has died but not before South Australia's take-up of rooftop solar has risen to double the national average.

Transcript (ABC TV Lateline)

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: Joy Baluch, the legendary mayor of South Australia's Port Augusta and fierce campaigner for a solar energy future for her city, died overnight.

Her death came only hours after the Federal Budget revealed deep cuts of more than $650 million to renewable energy funding and efficiency programs.

South Australia now leads the world in wind generation and its take-up of rooftop solar is double the national average.

Joy Baluch's beloved Port Augusta was leading the way in solar energy. She campaigned until her dying breath to use the energy from the sun to convert the city's struggling coal-fired generators.

Kerry Brewster has this exclusive report.

Solar warrior, Port Augusta mayor Joy Baluch dies, age 80


Port Augusta’s long-serving mayor, Nancy Joy Baluch AM, died in hospital on Tuesday night, after a long battle with cancer.

Baluch, who would have turned 80 on Wednesday, was mayor of the South Australian city for 29 years over three separate terms – a large part of which she spent fighting to have the town’s polluting coal-fired power stations replaced with a concentrating solar thermal plant.

Repower Port Augusta Part 3

As the parliamentary select committee into repowering Port Augusta prepares to visit Gemasolar in Spain, we are building up community knowledge and desire to see Australia's first big solar thermal power plant in South Australia. This is part 3 of Beyond Zero's series into the Repower Port Augusta campaign.

Vivien and Beth talk to Dan van Holst Pellekaan - MP for Port Augusta, Terry Mc Bride - BZE activist in Adelaide and Dr Karl Kruzelnicki.

See BZE's and Repower Port Augusta's submissions to the SA Select Committee on the Port Augusta Power Stations here.

Dan van Holst Pellekaan - Terry McBride, Dr Karl - Interviews

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