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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Australia plans major solar plant

Australia is to build one of the world's biggest solar power plants as part of a major new strategy by the government to combat climate change (story).

Canberra said it would be contributing A$75m (US$57m) to the A$420m plant due to be built in the state of Victoria. One of the first major projects to get funding is what Finance Minister Peter Costello said aimed to be the "biggest photovoltaic project in the world".

The plant at Victoria will use mirrored panels to concentrate the sun's rays and produce power that can go into the national grid, he told Australian radio.

Work is due to get under way in 2008 and reach full capacity by 2013.

The government also announced A$50m in funding towards a major project to reduce carbon emissions from coal.

Australia, a leading exporter in coal - has been criticised for failing to sign the Kyoto Protocol.

So, while waiting for my friend Lindsay's Oz perspective - I have two comments myself:

1. They still should have signed the Kyoto Protocol. Leading emitters of CO2 all over the world have avoided the commitment (including Canada under Harper).

2. Congratulations on trying something new that is solar...I hope it's successful. My single visit to Australia taught me a few things - and one is that they have A LOT of solar going on down there. I'd like to investigate this story further by heading down there in say...January or February.

You would think if anyone could do it the aussies can. No shortage of blue sky and vast areas of land practically of no use for any other purpose than green power generation.

I wonder if the future will see an International Electricity Grid. Forget the mission to Mars, let's go for that instead.

there's an interesting piece on Wiki. apparently, the present largest solar energy power station (in california) generates 350MW compared to a standard nuclear option of 1000MW. I mean, it doesn't seem unfeasible, does it?

btw, did you hear about the UK gov. proposal to pay communities to bury future nuclear waste under their homes?!
These belated moves represent a turnaround by Prime Minister Howard’s and his conservative Government.
Australia (with the exception of Ireland) has had the fastest growing economy in the world since the mid eighties but our governments approach to alternative energy has been abysmal.

Many scientists who warned of future trouble 10-15years ago have left as their forecasts were ignored and they were branded scaremongers. Strangely enough the push for sustainability and alternative energy is now coming from big business, the natural partner to the conservative government.

Business leaders have been highly critical of the Howard government’s performance in this area and Howard himself is now warming (excuse the pun) to the global warming debate. Hence I sense a growing ongoing commitment to alternative energy. I have read about 20 Annual Reports for large public companies recently and all are giving prominence to sustainability and corporate social responsibility, to night for instance I have just finished reading Woolworths Annual report. It devotes 4 pages to indicting the many projects reducing their environmental impact, sustaining local producers, doing business with integrity and creating a better life for Australian families! Other such as Wesfarmers have about 20pages on the subject.

I must admit to Howard being a masterful politician, at the first sign of public opinion turning,is willing to do a 360 degree turn.
This latest approach, commendable as it is, is far too narrowly based. There are many more initiatives needed. Another aspect of the latest imitative is the treatment of brown coal, to reduce substantially the emissions from power stations using brown coal in the La Trobe valley.
In fact a great deal more needs to be done in the interim to existing technology to reduce its effect in the next 30 years before the alternatives take hold.
We also need to implement carbon trading, but forget the Kyoto protocol; it’s totally inadequate given the latest evidence on global warming.

Howard’s also strongly hinting at nuclear energy.
I think it's fancilful as it will make so litle impact, takes a long time to come on stream and of course you have the wast problem.

A change of political thinking has begun; I guess it’s always better late than never!! But it’s a long way from an integrated energy and sustainable development programme.

The push for that is coming from business and the general populace. But politicians can move quickly if a sea change in public opinion is sensed, look out for the tidal wave!! It’s coming!!

Best wishes
it is worth investigating -
you really need to go:)
Well, good for them and I sure as hell hope it works because we need that sort of thinking everywhere.
One step back, two steps forward.
I have a solar panel on my roof, will invest more when I can afford it.
"Go Australia, go ...."!!!!

P.S. Oh Gary, I need a job (that also pays). Do you have a slot in your organization?
I hope this goes well. If it works, they could expand and produce power to other countries. I would hate to be the one who had to clean all those mirrors with Windex, however.
that is a step in the right direction! Lets see where does it go!
I know the basics of solar panels used for residential applications, and I know a bit about power generation.
As far as solar panels go, there has been a lot of experimentation over the past several years with new materials and designs. The latest I've heard of is some crystal that transmits heat better than glass.
As for power generation, capacity is related to turbine design. There have been advancements in boiler design in recent years.
Was talking to a boilermaker the other day about the main boiler at the plant we work at now. The thing is shaped like an inverted cone. He explained that each 90 the steam goes through as it travels through this cone produces so much more pressure. The principle is old, but this particular design is rather new (developed by a Japanese company, first one in the US).
Progress is slow, but the results are cumulative. We will see more efficient models come on line over the next few years.

And Hooray! for Australia.

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