Aussies Living Simply

Solar-thermal power touted as energy solution

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    Now this is cool, or should I say hot. heh

    Australian scientists have developed a new form of electricity that could provide all of Australia’s electricity needs in 2020.

    It has been developed by mixing solar energy, heat and natural gas.

    In the search to find a cleaner, more efficient form of power, scientists at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have developed what is called solar-thermal energy.

    Two hundred mirrors track the sun, and focus the sun’s rays towards a tower.

    The heat can reach temperatures of more than 1000 degrees Celsius, producing 500 kilowatts of power.

    This is then mixed with natural gas and water to produce a renewable energy.

    Wes Stein from the CSIRO says the new development could provide for Australia’s future energy needs.

    “It would only require about 50 kilometres by 50 kilometres in the centre of Australia somewhere to provide all of Australia’s electricity needs in 2020,” he said.

    “That’s not very much of Australia.”


    haven’t they been talking about this for years? I remember seeing something ages ago about building a 1km high tower….think they were looking at putting it up near Mildura??


    I think these kinds of energy solutions will get more research $$ and be taken more seriously now that the oil crisis is obviously on the way.


    One word…denile. These systems help us believe there is a future beyond cheap oil, which of course there isn’t.

    And they give researchers a job.

    If we wait until the oil crisis to impliment very-large-scale renewable energy systems it will be too late.

    Humans sent man to the moon for nothing more than TV ratings. Surely we can invest the same effort to save our way of life as we currently know it. I have 0% faith that any of these systems will be implimented in time to save us


    Agree. Mainly because oil is not only used for transport and electricity!


    Well, I think the reason these options are being researched now is to take advantage of the access to oil while we still have it. There are a lot of very intelligent people involved in energy research. Do you really think they haven’t considered how their technology will be affected by the absence of oil?

    PS, humans sent man to the moon as a trial run for mining the planets.


    Humans sent robots to the moon to see if they could be mined. Sending humans was show-boating for the TV cameras.

    Renewable energy doesn’t have a future because in the majority of cases it isn’t profitable. Nothing can compete with coal, gas or oil. Governments fund renewable energy projects to help with their “green” votes, nothing more.

    Although I must say there are some exceptions. In Europe and Japan they have been talking about Peak Oil for years, and are preparing for it better than most countries.

    Both Chevron and BP have seen the writing on the wall (which scares me more than anything else). Chevron have their “will you join us” campaign on peak oil, and BP have renamed themselves “Beyond Petroleum” and are the world leader and producer of practical solar technology. But it’s all too little too late. As soon as somebody does something to help use less energy, someone else fills the gap by using more. Economic growth is an unstopable monster that is not controlled by anyone. Growth has no leash and will consume us to death.

    To think anything less is denile of the truth.


    using gas to replace oil is only a stop gap solution anyway

    and I agree nothing will be done until its too late because there is money bing made from oil while it lasts

    a prime example of why capitalism is an unsustainable system especially US style p;under the world capitalism

    lets hope that after oil capitalists will be history LOL



    Renewable energy doesn’t have a future because in the majority of cases it isn’t profitable. Nothing can compete with coal, gas or oil. Governments fund renewable energy projects to help with their “green” votes, nothing more.

    Actually, renewable energy has quite a future. In the last 20 years, solar has become quite affordable, to the point where a modest home powering renewable energy system is now quite reasonable, and cheaper than krunning a kilometer of mains lines.

    If true cost accounting accounted for the “externalities” associated with non renewable energies, RE would be profitable right now. Acid rain costs a lot. Oil spills cost a lot. It will cost trillions of dollars to deal with nuclear waste. The unjust and unprovoked invasion of iraq will cost trhe US and UK trillions of dollares in the long run, and it was all about oil, not WMD, terrorism or “regime change”.

    Right now large wind systems are one of the fastes growing sectors of energy production, renewable or otherwise. While some people don’t like these huge wind behemoths (oooh, it ruins the view, etc, whine, grumble, etc), they produce huge amounts of power, and have a relatively low embedded cost. The slow moving blades in large systems don’t hurt birds, either (a nuclear industry paid disinformation campaign still makes people talk about birds whenever wind energy comes up in conversation).

    In the near future, costs will continue to come down, and I am glad to see companies like BP invest in solar because they have the level of capital to invest in the industry, bringing the price down and making renewable energy “profitable” for both BP and the end user, people like us. I like that they see themselves as an “energy company” and “Beyond Petroleum” because that is a good indicator that the 100 year joyride on petroleum is coming to an end, and that they see the end.

    I actually own several BP panels, as well as some siemens and Kyocera, Solarex, GE, Astropower (now bought out by some larger company), and another French company who makes Matrix panels, and they are all working fine. When I bought my first panel, the cost to run the grid in 3.5 kilometers would have been over USD40,000, so that made the first one panel system very cheap at USD500, and that panel (12 years old) is still working.

    I read a great book called “Natural Capitalism” by Amory and Hunter Lovins, which shows some of the great changes being made in business. Not to promote the supposed merits of capitalism, but many very exciting innovations that recently were not “profitable”, are now becoming so, and it is peoples desire to make money that makes these innovations possible.

    So, more power to BP and Chevron for being the proverbial canary in the cage to let the kool-aid drinkers and other people with teir heads in the sand see that oil is going bye bye!

    While I agree to some extent that there are going to be huge problems in the future, and the sharp white teeth of famine will and accompanying unhappiness will have catastrophic results, I am not too pessimistic. Perhaps we will pull it all together.

    And, I have a line on a brand new in the box BP 75 watt panel for about %75 of its retail cost (a bit more than its wholesale value, but shipped to Belize already, duty paid), and I think if I can swing it, i’ll get it. How much you want to bet I can sell it in a few months for a nice capitalistic profit (installed with a charge controller and battery for a small one panel system)? …..:D


    Anyway, movie night is Saturday night, so off to watch some silly flick with our neighbors, on our solar powered laptop. A dry season ritual…. back later!


    Solar and wind will only ever be used on a very small scale, to power single homes or small communities unless TRILLIONS of dollars are invested. And we know that will never happen. BP is already having a hard time sourcing high-grade silicon for their panels. We are at “Peak Silicon” so to speak. I’ve heard it said that we only need to cover 50 of the Australian outback with solar panels to power our cities; only there isn’t enough quality silicon on the planet to even come close to making them.

    Think of all the massive investments into infrastructure and assets that require oil and large scale transport. When the age of oil ends so will the global economy. When the economy and stockmarket crash, you won’t be able to buy solar panels, or the batteries to replace the ones you are currently using. Or bearings for wind generators either.

    Technology in all its forms will grind to a halt as entropy takes hold.

    It’s much better to invest in low tech sustainability.


    Oil peak is on a curve not a drop off, when supply can’t meet demand the price will rise but I doubt it will have a snap effect, it will effect the price of fuel at the pump and the price of air travel but I feel when this does happen or becomes more visable major things won’t change over night, it will happen over many years, projects like this hopefully be given a real boost when it becomes visable to the general public.

    I really hope a project like this gets off the ground and it is quite possible that it will happen.

    Here is the CSIRO’s website on the project.,,.html


    Yes, oil peak is a curve, but nobody knows how steep it will be. Thanks to horizontal drilling it will be steeper than a lot of people think. And don’t forget about consumption increases from countries like india and china. Combine that with a steep curve and you’ll have petrol shortages within months.

    Combine that again with a terrorist attack, and you’ll have petrol shortages overnight. Don’t forget these guys were prepared to fly airliners into skyscrapers. Their next big target will major oil supply systems. They’ll wait until reserves are low because that will have a bigger impact.

    So here we are, looking at all the wonderful technological marvels, thinking how safe and secure we will be when someone decides to build them on a large scale. Do you think BP will build them once countries sieze oil reserves within their own borders and oil trading is frozen? BP will be bankrupt. The CSIRO won’t build them because the construction contractors they use will be too busy looting supermarkets.

    Besides, this fancy electricity generator will never be built on a large scale because we have 300 years of coal left. It’s not more electricity we need, it’s OIL!!!

    And before anyone else mentions it, hydrogen isn’t going to help. Do you want to strap yourself into a hydrogen bomb to take the kids to school? They have to pressurize these tanks so much to get mileage out of them, if you ever had a serious impact in one it would cause an explosion big enough to level the average city block.

    I don’t paint a rosey picture of energy descent, but I’m just being realistic.

    What you people are already doing on here is the absolute best way to prepare. Not solar energy, or hydrogen or nuclear or anything else. Growing you own food in you own backyard is the best sustainable technology there ever was.


    Taken from an article published in Yahoo News on Monday….

    Saudis worry that consumer demand could overwhelm the slow progress in bringing new energies to market. “If this continues, you’ll have demand outstripping supply over the next five years by a wide margin,” said Obaid.

    Others, like Sharif Ghalib of Energy Intelligence Research in New York, say the world’s cushion of excess oil production capacity — a safety margin that keeps a lid on prices — is so low that demand could outstrip supplies now. All it would take is a single oil producer going off-line for any reason.

    “The crunch is already here. It’s not five years down the road,” Ghalib said. “There is no thought being given in the U.S. to raising gasoline taxes or increasing mileage on U.S. cars. In China, automobile use is skyrocketing.”


    I’ve started the process to sell our second car as i’m now working from home, should save us 3-4k a year in costs.

    A service, tyres and then it’s on the market.


    this is very heavy reading. I suspect the oil companies have ulterior motives, to make sure they get every cent profit out of the market before we see a concerted effort to change the way things are.

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