Power breakthrough: Principal research scientist and team leader Dr Jin-Soo Kim at the CSIRO Energy Centre's solar field in Newcastle. Picture: Marina Neil.

Power breakthrough: Principal research scientist and team leader Dr Jin-Soo Kim at the CSIRO Energy Centre's solar field in Newcastle. Picture: Marina Neil.

Joe Biden backs CSIRO Newcastle's energy project

CSIRO Newcastle plays key role in the development of next-generation energy storage technology

Energy
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CSIRO's Newcastle energy centre has played a pivotal role in the development of next-generation energy storage technology that will be unveiled by the US Department of Energy.

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CSIRO's Newcastle energy centre has played a pivotal role in the development of next-generation energy storage technology that will be unveiled by the US Department of Energy.

New Mexico-based Sandia Laboratories, a private energy research and development agency, will receive US$25 million to build a 1 megawatt demonstration plant with a minimum of six hours of storage.

The project is being developed as part of the Biden Administration's commitment to low-cost energy storage solutions.

The technology converts sunlight into stored thermal energy by heating particles to more than 700 degrees.

Multi-stage falling particle receiver prototype. A field of mirrors aim onto and irradiate the particles in the falling curtain directly, heating the particles up to over 800degC. Video courtesy CSIRO

The thermal energy can then be used to power a turbine, generating on-demand electricity at any time.

Australia's involvement in the project has been managed by the Australian Solar Thermal Research Initiative, a $100 million consortium established through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and CSIRO.

A pilot-scale of the US facility has been built at CSIRO Newcastle.

Read also: More solar and wind farms forecast in the next five years

The Australian National University and the University of Adelaide were also partners in the project.

Australian Solar Thermal Research Institute director Dominic Zaal said the convergence of numerous game-changing trends, including more engaged consumers, a changing energy mix, and rapid technology advancements were creating unique integration challenges for the Australian electricity market.

"Central to these challenges is the need to supply secure, reliable and affordable clean energy solutions 24/7," he said.

"Concentrated solar thermal is a technology option that can help meet this need. It can provide multiple-hours of thermal energy storage that can be readily used to generate electricity or heat on demand.

"This is important because photovoltaics and wind are intermittent generators. They can only generate when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing."

Low-cost, grid-scale energy storage is one of five priority areas for investment under the Federal Government's Technology Investment Roadmap.

"The technologies Australia is developing, and the Government is supporting, will deliver global benefits," Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said.

"Australian-developed solar cell technology is already used in more than 60 per cent of commercial solar panels globally.

"Zero emissions, dispatchable energy sources like concentrated solar thermal storage will be needed to back up increasing shares of renewable energy."

In January 2021, Minister Taylor and Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry agreed to establish a joint Australia-US working group to advance cooperation on low emissions technologies.

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The story Joe Biden backs CSIRO Newcastle's energy project first appeared on Newcastle Herald.

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