Australia in for long wait to see thermal solar energy benefits

Solar thermal power in Australia may not be commercially viable for another 20 years or more, it has been claimed.

Energy minister Josh Frydenberg has backed the development of the technology domestically – although he has warned it could take until 2040 to become reality.

Solar thermal, also known as concentrated solar power, involves concentrating a large area of sunlight into a smaller area using lens.

Concessional loans of up to $110 million have already been committed to the country’s first solar thermal project in Port Augusta, the AFR reported.

 The move follows a deal with Independent SA Senator Nick Xenophon in return for supporting Coalition tax cuts.

 According to the report, however, warnings have also been fired by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) that solar thermal projects are more expensive than other alternative forms of renewable energy.

“The Ashalim solar plant is impressive in scope and scale,” Frydenberg said. “When it is operational it will be the tallest and fifth largest solar thermal plant in the world.

“With the solar potential of Port Augusta being similar to that of the Negev Desert, this project can provide a number of valuable lessons for ARENA as they consider proposals for Australia’s first solar thermal plant.”

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