Solar research funding is just passing the buck

December 13 2012

Martin Ferguson's announcement this morning for $83 million for solar energy research is a diversion from actually building large solar, according to Matthew Wright from the climate and energy think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions.

“While Australia is limiting its large-scale solar energy sector to research, other countries are going ahead and building it – and learning more in the process,” Wright said.

“If Martin Ferguson really supported large scale solar energy, he would have us build it now.

“China has just announced that, from almost nothing today, they will build three thousand megawatts of solar thermal capacity in the next three years. That's what we should be doing, too.” 

Beyond Zero Emissions are pushing for Australia's first large solar-thermal plants to be built at Port Augusta, to replace the two coal power stations there, in coalition with union, community and environmental groups and the Port Augusta council. 

Image: Abengoa solar thermal plant, Spain

The group has written a technical report on how it can be done, building on the 2010 Zero Carbon Australia plan which outlined a feasible plan to power all of Australia on 100% renewable energy. 

“Port Augusta would have to be one of the world's best locations for solar thermal energy: it has the grid connection, the skilled workforce, and a world-class solar resource.

“Building solar thermal plants, that store heat energy to operate at night, is the key piece of the puzzle to replace baseload coal and gas with clean and reliable renewable energy.

“24 hour solar power is what Australians want, and we've shown that it can be built.”

For further comment, phone Matthew Wright, Executive Director, Beyond Zero Emissions, on 0421 616 733.