Multi-Collector Solar Thermal Project for Australia

A new project in Australia called the National Solar Energy Technology Centre (NSETC) will be a showcase for solar thermal technologies by incorporating the only multi-collector facility of its type in Australia. Developers believe it will become the largest high concentration solar array in the Southern Hemisphere.

Located at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization Energy Center site in Newcastle, New South Wales, the NSETC will be a showcase for solar thermal technologies and play a key role in CSIRO’s ongoing research into efficient, low emission energy generation. At peak operation it will generate enough electricity to power more than 100 homes. The NSETC comprises three main elements. The first is a high concentration tower solar array that uses 200 mirrors to generate more than 500 kW of energy. It will be capable of achieving peak temperatures of over 1000 degrees Celsius. The second is a linear concentrator solar array that will generate a hot fluid at temperatures around 250 degrees Celsius to power a small turbine generator. And third is a control room facility that will house the center’s communications and control systems and serve as an elevated viewing platform. CSIRO Engineer and NSETC Project Manager, Wes Stein, believes collaboration is integral to the progress of solar renewable energy research. “CSIRO is very keen to use the NSETC to promote collaboration through shared use of the facility by Australian and international researchers,” Stein said. “Solar energy is the world’s largest energy resource and the NSETC will enable us to conduct research that sets us on the road to the ultimate objective of renewable-based energy supplies.” The National Solar Energy Technology Centre is set to open in July 2005. This project is supported by the International Science Linkages program established under the Australian Government’s innovation statement Backing Australia’s Ability, as well as the NSW Government’s Sustainable Energy Research & Development Fund (SERDF).