US to test solar thermal technology developed with Australia

The United States Government has announced funding for a commercial-scale test facility for the demonstration of Australian next-generation solar thermal technology.  

The US Department of Energy will fund the test, which aims to store solar thermal energy which can be used to generate electricity at any time during the day or night.

The Hon Angus Taylor, Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction said the concentrated solar thermal technology, led by Sandia Laboratories in the US, is being developed with input from CSIRO, the Australian National University and University of Adelaide.

‘Australian research has played a vital role in supporting the concentrated solar technology, which has the potential to open up new ways of generating clean electricity at relative low cost,’ the Minister said.

 ‘Australia will continue to collaborate with the US on the technology, which could be in operation in Australia within the next few years.’

The technology involves a falling curtain of small particles heated to more than 700 degrees Celsius by concentrated sunlight. The super-heated particles are then stored to generate electricity or for industrial use.

Australia’s involvement with the project has been managed through the Australian Solar Thermal Research Initiative (ASTRI), a consortium of Australian research institutions established by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and CSIRO.

CSIRO has been the main contributor to the falling particle technology, having built its own falling particle system at its Newcastle solar energy facility.  

CSIRO is expecting to test its falling particle system using concentrated sunlight in the coming weeks.

To read more, see the Minister’s media release.