Solar projects contribute to ultimate goal

The CSIRO welcomed the award of a $5.65 million grant from the Australian Solar Institute towards three major solar research projects worth a total of $16 million. The funding will be used to develop a large scale solar air turbine, a thermoelectric generator which is expected to reduce the cost of solar energy by 10 per cent or more, and to conduct Australia’s first investigation of its type of the effects of the irregular nature of sunshine ‘solar intermittency’ on electricity grids.

CSIRO’s energy transformed flagship director, Dr Alex Wonhas, said the funding will further enable CSIRO’s solar thermal research to remain at a world-class level.

“CSIRO is recognised as a world leader in solar thermal research and, although the projects all differ, each contributes to the ultimate goal of creating solar energy at a cost of 10 to 14 cents per kilowatt hour.

“We will have more than 30 scientists, engineers, chemists and technicians demonstrating and developing these important solar projects,” Dr Wonhas said.

Collaborating with some of the energy industry’s top companies on these projects, CSIRO will aim to make solar energy a more efficient and cost-effective energy source compared to other fossil fuel energy sources such as gas and coal.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Thermax and the Australian Energy Market Operator are just some of the industry organisations with which CSIRO is looking to work, as well as a number of major universities.