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Australia’s science agency CSIRO has installed a new solar energy technology in Cyprus, and hopes to license it around the world, including in the Australian market.

In order to meet a European Union target of 13% of energy coming from renewable sources by 2020, Cyprus charged Australia’s national science agency CSIRO with designing and installing a new solar energy technology that could expedite a shift away from fossil fuels and also deal with the island’s chronic water shortages.

With the $500,000 it received, CSIRO has built a “solar thermal field” containing 50 large mirrors that reflect the power of the sun – so-called heliostats – at Pentakomo, in the south of Cyprus. The heliostats track the sun and reflect it towards a single receiving point on top of a tower, and the heat amassed warms molten salt, which is stockpiled in a hot tank at 250°C and whose steam powers a turbine for electricity. The great advantage of this technology is that it can produce energy even when the sun has disappeared, and for this reason Wes Stein, solar research leader at CSIRO, has declared it to be “more efficient than batteries”.

CSIRO has built the first version of the heliostats in 2006, and is now hoping that more countries will decide to follow Cyprus’ example, thus triggering a large-scale development of the technology. Notably, Australia could make the most of it, as it has the best solar radiation of any continent in the world, but over the past year the Australian federal government has adopted an ill-considered policy towards renewable energies: according to data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, in 2014 investments in large-scale renewable energy in the country have registered a 90% decrease, and Australian Bureau of Statistics’ figures show that more than 2,300 people have lost their jobs in this sector in the last two years.

The Australian Energy Market Operator has revealed that the creation of a 100% renewable energy system wouldn’t come cheap, as the the country would have to spend between $219 billion to $332 billion, but promoters of a switch to renewables highlight that this level of investment is similar to current levels of spending for the development of fossil fuels.


The gLAWcal Team

POREEN project

Thursday, 7 May 2015

(Source: Guardian)