The NREL System Advisor Model for Australian CSP Stakeholders (SAM)

AUSTELA is pleased to announce the availability of new online tools to assist in the evaluation of CSP projects and system performance in Australia – the NREL System Advisor Model for Australian CSP Stakeholders.

Predicting the output of a CSP system is a complex process. Thermal systems include multiple subsystem whose behaviour at any point in time depends not only on the instantaneous conditions the whole system experiences, but also the recent history of its operation.

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Australian National Conference on Resources and Energy (ANCRE)

AUSTELA is pleased to announce we are conference supporters of the upcoming Australian National Conference on Resources and Energy (ANCRE), to be held on 3 – 4 October 2013 at the Canberra Theatre Centre, ACT.

Early bird registration closes soon, on 31 July, 2013.

This is the second year the ANCRE conference has been held. Hosted by the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE), ANCRE is the only national conference sponsored and organised by the Australian Government that provides a global and Australian perspective on resources and energy.

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A time of opportunity for Concentrating Solar Thermal Power in Australia?

AUSTELA's role is to help improve the investment environment for Concentrating Solar Thermal Power (CSP) in Australia, by improving access for energy market investors and decision-makers to information about CSP.

AUSTELA's new quarterly newsletter is designed to provide a brief snapshot of notable CSP industry developments of potential relevance for Australia.

This first AUSTELA newsletter comes at a challenging, yet encouraging, time for renewable energy in Australia; a time when renewable energy development is rapidly gaining momentum globally.

2012 saw further evidence of the dramatic changes confronting the Australian and international energy markets as the move to renewable energy accelerates. The Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics, in its inaugural Australian Energy Technology Assessment (August 2012), noted that Australia is facing a very different energy future, in which renewable energy will play a major role and is likely to be the lowest cost form of power generation.

Research from AEMO, the Australian Solar Institute/IT Power, University of New South Wales Centre for Environmental and Energy Markets and others – consistent with the findings of international research - showed the important role and high value potential of CSP in Australia's energy system.

Against this backdrop of accelerating change and of opportunity for CSP, AUSTELA thought it timely to note – and celebrate – 100 years of concentrating solar thermal power generation, with a look back in time to the Al Meadi parabolic trough plant, commissioned in 1913, and a review of one of the newest - the Termosolar Borges CSP-biomass hybrid plant recently commissioned in Spain.

New Tools for Economic Assessment of Australian CSP Projects

We are also pleased in this newsletter to announce the imminent release of new online tools to assist investors to assess the economics of Australian CSP projects.

The US National Renewable Energy Laboratories’ (NREL) System Advisor Model, or ‘SAM’ has become a global benchmark for high level analysis of CSP system performance. However the available solar data files in Australia are limited, and prone to errors, and the sophisticated cost assessment models in SAM are tailored to the US market.

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Clarifying Strategic Funding Support for CSP in Australia

As we celebrate 100 years of CSP technology, Australia continues to hold potential as a CSP investment destination. However recent consultation by AUSTELA with CSP investors in Japan, the US, Germany and Spain also reveals considerable confusion about Australia’s strategy for CSP.

ARENA’s General Funding Strategy and Investment Plan, announced in November 2012, provide broad guidance about ARENA’s priorities and areas of focus, and ARENA has emphasized a willingness to enter into discussions with project proponents to provide guidance on project development. This flexible approach has benefits, but comes at the cost of lack of clarity for investors.

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Heightened Japanese Interest in CSP in Australian

Recently, as Chair of AUSTELA I was privileged to join the members of the Society of Concentrating Solar Thermal Energy in Japan (SCSTE Japan) at the Society’s December meeting, held in Tokyo. I was invited to discuss the policy environment for concentrating solar thermal power in Australia, including ARENA’s General Funding Strategy and Investment Plan.

SCSTE Japan was formed in June 2012, with Japanese government support, to help facilitate CSP technology development and to promote business opportunities for Japanese companies involved in CSP.

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CSIRO CSP Research Initiative

CSIRO has secured a significant investment from ARENA for a long-term program of research aimed at accelerating cost reductions in CSP technology. The Australian Solar Thermal Research Initiative (ASTRI) will be led by prominent CSP technologist and current Chair of the SolarPACES Executive Committee, Dr Manuel Blanco.

Based at CSIRO’s National Solar Energy Centre at Newcastle, the ASTRI is an A$87 million, eight year international collaboration with leading research institutions, industry bodies and universities.

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Potential Network Benefits of CSP in Australia

In the next AUSTELA newsletter, we will report on another major research initiative from AUSTELA, now nearing conclusion and due to report in mid-2013.

The project – ‘Identifying the Potential Network Benefits of CSP in the NEM’, is co-funded by AUSTELA, distribution network services provider Ergon Energy, and ARENA.

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100th anniversary for the first commercial parabolic trough plant

In 2013 we celebrate 100 years of concentrating solar thermal power generation (CST). At the beginning of 1913, the Al Meadi CST plant was commissioned in Cairo, Egypt. The Al Meadi plant was used to drive a 100hp irrigation pump producing 2,000m3.

At the beginning of the 20th century CST was competitive with coal in locations with good Direct Nominal Insolation (DNI) – solar resource - had 30% lower wear and tear, and was easier to operate than coal plants [1]. The oil industry was still forming, with reserves still to be discovered in the Persian Gulf.

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First CSP-biomass hybrid plant worldwide commences operation

In December 2012 the first CSP-biomass hybrid plant, Termosolar Borges, commenced operation near Lleida, Spain [1], see Figure 1. Termosolar Borges, the most northern CST plant in Spain, has a peak capacity of 22.5MW with up to 12MWe from biomass [2]. The facility is a 150m Euro investment [2] and uses parabolic troughs with thermal oil as the CST component while the biomass component consists of two grate type boilers/heaters, see Figure 2.

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Solar boost at Liddell, Hunter Valley

In a world-leading development, October 2012 saw a new 9.3MWth concentrating solar thermal plant come into operation at Liddell power station in the Hunter Valley [1], see Figure 1. The plant uses the Fresnel technology with direct steam generation to provide solar steam boost to the Liddell coal-fired plant. It follows the successful operation of a smaller compact linear Fresnel test field at the Liddell plant since 2004.

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Contact Details

Australian Solar Thermal Energy Association Ltd
ACN: 149 005 210
PO Box 379
Croydon Park
NSW 2133, Australia

Tel: +61 2 8001 6360