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Solar Energy In The Australian Outback – At 8c/kWh

An Australian solar thermal technology developer says it can provide concentrated solar thermal energy to outback and remote locations for just 8c/kWh, and hopes to sign for its first two commercial projects within the next few months.

Graphite Energy, an Australian company privately owned by an un-named “entrepreneurial family”, has been operating a 3MW solar thermal power plant at Lake Cargelligo, in western NSW, for the last couple of years.

Concentrating solar thermal technology differs from solar PV because it captures the sun’s heat and uses it to generate steam – just like fossil fuel generators. The key to its success comes in its ability to do this efficiently, at high temperatures, and at low cost. graphite

Various technologies exist, such as parabolic troughs, power towers and flat-mirrored linear fresnel. The distinguishing feature of Graphite Energy’s technology (seen at right) is that it uses graphite receivers that are mounted on towers to collect heat reflected from a field of heliostats (mirrors), and its ability to store energy via heat exchangers gives it an “in-built” storage option that delivers “dispatchable” energy.

And the company is about to take this technology to market, but not in the way that most would expect.


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