Australian Solar Thermal Companies Struggle for Government Support
A recentÂ article from”Beyond Zero Emissions” Â suggestsÂ thatÂ all is not well with the Solar Thermal Industry in the “land down under”Â . ItÂ appears that the federal government is eager to show new support for the industry after cristism for allowing a solar thermal Australian startup company ( Ausra) to be purchased by a global energy company. The government has identified several key solar technologies that it intends to support with funding, includingÂ the Australian National Universitie’sÂ Concentrated Solar Big Dish. ANU’s Big Dish is committed to receive $60 Million to get a 40MWe power plant up and running at Whyalla South Australia.
Â â€œThe commitment for the Big Dish shows that Australia can value its innovators and in particular its solar innovators,â€ said Matthew Wright, Executive Director of Beyond Zero Emissions.
â€œAfter the Howard Government let home-grown solar energy company Ausra (now Areva Solar) go offshore in search of capital only to be bought up by the world’s largest nuclear power company, it’s good to see that Australian solar innovation will be commercialised in Australiaâ€
However, Energy Minister Martin Ferguson’s announcement late last night of which â€œwinnersâ€ he has picked for the first round of the Solar Flagships funding reveals a government that does not understand the solar energy advances that have already passed muster overseas.
â€œFlagships should never have included funding for photovoltaic projects because that solar technology does not presently have storage capabilities allowing it to dispatch energy when the sun doesn’t shine,â€ said Wright.
ACS Cobraâ€™s solar thermal Flagships application was excluded from funding, even though energy experts agree that it is the most promising renewable energy proposal in Australia.
â€œItâ€™s absurd that the Rudd governmentâ€™s budget failed to invest in ACS Cobraâ€™s projects. The company is building one third of the world’s commercial scale solar thermal plants and is the only company to have commercial plants operating that dispatch power 24 hours,â€ Mr Wright said.
ACS Cobra is the only company that met the government’s criteria that specified a plant had to be operating for 12 months with a capacity of at least 30MWe.
â€œIt is clear the government has failed to follow its own guidelines,â€ said Wright. â€œI believe some of the shortlisted choices the government has made show it is obsessed with validating existing coal facilities and supporting the most basic and primitive solar technologies that have been long superceded by more recent commercial developments in the field of solar energy.â€
The imperative of energy storage has also been ignored by the flagship’s shortlist selection.
â€œWithout currently available molten salts storage a Solar thermal plant can not produce baseload power. It seems like the government is hell bent on supporting the status quo and making sure that the baseload myth is not busted.â€
The generation of Linear Fresnel technology that has been chosen for two of the four solar thermal projects generates low temperatures and has been likened by engineers to having “warm water in the desert.”
“The choice of low temperature solar thermal will equal low efficiency”
â€œIn Spain and the US, Solar power plants will be built this year that run more hours of a year at equivalent full output than NSW coal fired power plants. That’s baseload Solar. That’s baseload renewables. That’s the future just around the corner, which the Australian government is blind to,â€ said Mr Wright.
About Beyonf Zero Emissions:
Beyond Zero Emissions was established in 2006 out of a concern that the stated climate change goals of other environmental organisations at the time contradicted the scientific literature. Policies these organisations were calling for if realised would see atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise, thereby causing devastation from global warming.
For further information or comment, contact Matthew Wright, Executive Director of Beyond Zero EmissionsAreva, areva solar, Ausra, Australia, big dish, coal, coal fired power, commercial plants, Companies, concentrated solar, desert, development, efficiency, energy company, energy experts, energy minister, engineers, flagships, funding, Generation, Global, global energy company, Google, government, howard government, Largest, Magazine, matthew wright, minister martin, Molten Salt, molten salts, nation, National, olar energy, osa, Power plant, project, renewable, renewable energy, renewables, solar energy, solar energy advances, solar energy company, solar power, solar power plant, solar technologies, solar technology, solar thermal, solar thermal plants, South Australia, Spain, startup company, storage, storage capabilities, Sun, Technology, thermal projects, universitie, US, whyalla south australia, world, zero emissions
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