The Solar Thermal Research Hub project involved CSIRO constructing Australia’s largest solar thermal research hub at the CSIRO National Solar Energy Centre in Newcastle.
The Solar Thermal Research Hub project recognises that concentrating solar power (CSP) has long held the promise of large-scale power generation.
Targeted investment in Australia’s CSP research infrastructure would build world-class research capabilities, drive innovation and efficiencies, and ultimately deliver the competitive advantage needed to attract investment and commercialise CSP technologies in Australia.
This project involved CSIRO constructing Australia’s largest solar thermal research hub at the CSIRO National Solar Energy Centre in Newcastle, New South Wales.
The hub comprises a 30 metre high solar tower surrounded by a 4000 square metre field of 450 locally-manufactured custom-design mirrors (heliostats), capable of generating temperatures of up to 1500 degrees Celcius.
The hub has provided a platform that allows Australia’s best researchers to develop, test and commercialise CSP technologies side by side with industry partners and research institutions around the world.
Early successes have included collaborations with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Abengoa.
CSIRO is also using the facility to develop and test solar air turbines that generate electricity from air and sunshine alone. This is a new area of solar research and will provide cost effective and efficient energy solutions to remote arid towns and industry in Australia and around the world.
As part of the foundation project, the Australian National University aims to adapt the solar air turbine technology used in the Solar Thermal Research Hub for use on solar parabolic dishes.
The new facility will help make solar-generated electricity cheaper, more efficient, available when needed and less reliant on other scarce resources such as water.