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CSIRO's cheap solar energy centre: photos

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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By Suzanne Tindal on
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This is an artist's impression of the new solar field and tower, set to be completed in the middle of 2011.

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This is another angle of the artist's impression. When installed, the mirrors will concentrate the sun's rays, creating temperatures of up to 1000 degrees Celsius.

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The heliostats (pictured above, look closely) have been developed by CSIRO and made by Performance Engineering Group, a company based in the central coast.

The size of the panels (2.4 metres by 1.8 metres) makes them difficult to manufacture, as the shape needs to meet exact specifications in order to achieve the right reflection point and the strength to withstand adverse weather.

According to the CSIRO, the heliostats have a unique design specifically created for mass production and are more effective than other heliostats. Indeed, the managing director of Performance Engineering Group, Jon Priddle, believes that high-quality heliostats will one day be mass produced in Australia.

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The new heliostat field and tower will be placed in Newcastle next to an older one, pictured here.

CSIRO hopes to make energy from solar technology, which can be produced at the same cost or cheaper than that from fossil fuels, when carbon costs are taken into account.

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

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

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Excavations in progress.

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