CSIRO's cheap solar energy centre: photos

CSIRO's cheap solar energy centre: photos

Summary: The CSIRO yesterday began installing 450 large mirrors, known as heliostats, in order to create a large solar-thermal tower system in the hopes of fostering cheap solar energy.

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TOPICS: Emerging Tech
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  • (Credit: CSIRO)

    Representatives from the Australian Solar Institute and CSIRO turn the sod at the development site.

  • (Credit: CSIRO)

    CSIRO energy system manager James McGregor, Performance Engineering managing director Jon Priddle and Australian Solar Institute CEO Mark Twidell.

  • (Credit: CSIRO)

    Excavations in progress.

Topic: Emerging Tech

Suzanne Tindal

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Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at ZDNet.com.au as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for the site.

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  • Solar collection is the ideal natural resource, but only if it is capturing the sun next to where it is being used. In that situation, there is no net thermal difference to the location. That means minimal environmental effects. Also means minimal transmission losses.

    Massive aggregated generation areas, pumping energy to another geographical location, create significant thermal changes to the atmosphere at the point of use.

    Generation that involves harnessing flow, like wind or water, can also create environmental changes, even when deployed at a local level. We have seen how much change is required to build a hydro dam and how much it changes the downstream environment and users. Wind generators can disrupt the airflow, but are often in areas with very high energy flows, so that they may be more of an eyesaw rather than environmentally disruptive.

    Generating by fuel consuption, such as coal or nuclear, create the worst effects because they add energy, rather than just shift it around. Plus they have severe, long term environmental effects, especially nuclear.

    Of course, the net environmental effects of the manufacturing, deployment and disposal processes also need to be included into the equation. Such 'costs' need to be part of the comparitive analysis of the available energy options. Unfortunately, such 'costs' are not itemised conveniently for us.

    For example, while using newer cars may be less harmful than older cars, the true cost must include the cost /energy of recycling/disposal of the old vehicle and the cost/energy of the new. I'm sure the impetus to change vehicles on environmental grounds would be severely reduced if such energy costs were included in the nett environmental impacts, as the running energy savings may not be worth it when the chaneover energy costs are amortised over the vehicle's life.
    Patanjali
  • At least the idea of manufacturing has begun in OZ. I'm sick of watching great ideas of Australians getting nowhere here & ending up being built overseas. Get off the sheep's back & knit some jumpers...
    alfielee@...
  • Wow, lets jump on old tech and call it new just because it hasn't been done before in Australia. The key word for me in the title is "Cheap" where is this discussed, cheap relative to what, cheap how. Guys more information please not just pictures, how many MW is this installation. Lifetime, MTBF etc.

    "Generating by fuel consuption (sic.), such as coal or nuclear, create the worst effects because they add energy, rather than just shift it around. Plus they have severe, long term environmental effects, especially nuclear."
    Dr_Evil-6c75b