A landmark new agreement to be signed today will see Australia’s world-leading solar heliostat technology rolled out in China as part of the country’s uptake of concentrated solar thermal (CST) for electricity generation.
CSIRO’s technology will help China reach its renewable energy targets and produce 1.4 GW of CST by 2018, and up to 5 GW by 2020 – which is a doubling the world’s installed CST plants.
The deal between CSIRO, which invented the specialist heliostat technology, and Chinese company Thermal Focus is a recognition of Australia’s outstanding expertise in this field.
Thermal Focus will market, sell and install CSIRO’s patented low cost heliostats in China, with the revenue stream flowing back into Australia to fund further climate mitigation research.
Australia is a leader in clean energy technology and this partnership is an important step in realizing this advantage by commercialising the product and returning the gains to the taxpayer.
Solar thermal technology uses a field of computer-controlled mirrors (heliostats) that accurately reflect and concentrate sunlight onto a receiver on top of a tower.
The concentrated sunlight can then be used to heat and store hot molten salt, which can generate superheated steam to drive a turbine for electricity generation.
An advantage of this system is the very low cost of storing thermal energy, giving CST technology great potential for medium to large-scale solar power, even when the sun isn’t shining.
A heliostat field can represent up to 40 per cent of the total plant cost so low cost, high precision heliostats are a crucial component.
CSIRO’s software optimises the configuration of the heliostats prior to construction and manages each heliostat to ensure the optimum amount of reflected heat is focused on the receiver, maximising the amount of power that can be produced.
Once again we see CSIRO’s researchers leading the world and I want to congratulate everyone involved on this incredible achievement.
The partnership will be signed today at the Asia-Pacific Solar Research Conference at the Australian National University in Canberra by CSIRO and Thermal Focus.