Technology from Australian scientific agency CSIRO has been installed in Cyprus to create a solar thermal plant for the Mediterranean island nation.
The Cyprus Institute research facility uses an array of 50 mirrors to accurately track the sun and reflect it towards a receiver on top of a tower, heating a fluid to generate electricity.
The CSIRO technology is smaller and more cost-effective than competing designs. It uses mirrors to track the sun and reflect it towards a single receiving point on top of a tower. This heat then warms a fluid, in this case molten salt.
CSIRO solar team leader Robbie McNaughton said the electricity generated will be used to operate a small desalination plant.
“Working with Cyprus, they approached us to build what is quite a small field, but will enable them to explore the technology and start to develop a relationship so we can work on things together,” he said, as reported by ABC News.
“They’ve got different problems to what we have here in Australia.
“They’re really interested in things like desalination and power generation, and if we put all our heads to together, we can solve some of these problems.”
The molten salt, heated to 250°C, is stored in a hot tank and the steam produced powers a turbine for electricity. Crucially, this storage method allows for energy to be produced long after the sun has disappeared.
The CSIRO won an international tender to provide its technology to Cyprus, and it has been reported that several other European and Middle Eastern countries are interested in adopting the technology.
Cyprus is attempting to meet to meet a European Union target of 13 per cent of energy coming from renewable sources by 2020. The Mediterranean country is also plagued by water shortages and may use solar energy to power desalination plants.
The CSIRO has said Australia could produce all of its energy in this way if it installed a plant over an area of 50km by 50km, a third of it taken up by mirrors. The agency developed the technology in 2006 and has a pilot plant in Newcastle with 450 mirrors.