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The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) today congratulated researchers at CSIRO and Abengoa Solar for achieving the highest temperature steam ever produced using energy from the sun.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the achievement was a significant renewable energy breakthrough and demonstrated the value of investing in research and development.

“The ability to generate hot and pressurised ‘supercritical’ steam from the sun, brings solar thermal a step closer to competing with fossil fuels,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“This demonstration project shows it is possible for supercritical steam to reach temperatures of up to 570 degrees Celsius and pressure of 23.5 megapascals.

“Achieving the critical combination of high pressure and high temperature is a giant step – it demonstrates solar energy has the potential to effectively power the steam turbines currently used by advanced coal-fired plants.

“In addition to being a renewable energy world first, this landmark development stands to deliver greater plant efficiency as well as advance a diverse energy future for Australia.”

The supercritical steam world record was set in May at the CSIRO Energy Centre in Newcastle, NSW. The Centre has two test plants that concentrate light from 600 mirrors into receiver towers where water is heated to produce steam that drives turbines.

The research is part of a broader collaboration between CSIRO and Abengoa Solar to advance solar storage and deliver solar electricity around the clock.

ARENA has contributed $2.8 million support to the $5.7 million research program.

Last updated 27 August 2020
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