Solar power Australia has a lot of solar energy to offer the world.
SolarPowerBeginner recently had a chat with Stewart Taggart about solar power Australia-style.
Mr. Taggart is the founder of DESERTEC-Australia, an organization that advocates developing large-scale solar, geothermal, wind and wave energy projects in interior Australia. He is also director of South Australia-based Acquasol Infrastructure Ltd. an environmentally-friendly power and water project developer.
SolarPowerBeginner: What place does concentrating solar power have in Australia’s energy future?
Stewart Taggart: The CSIRO has said a mirror field located in interior Australia 50×50 kilometers could power all of Australia.The reason is that Australia has ‘world-class’ resources of ‘direct normal radiation,’ or blazing desert sun.
But Australia needs to get on the stick or lose this opportunity. At present, the opportunity is huge. At present, Australia has perhaps the broadest array of companies involved in all facets of the concentrating solar power and geothermal industry of any country in the world. It’s a technology and business lead that is Australia’s to lose. Let’s hope it doesn’t, because the potential for the country is huge.
SolarPowerBeginner: Solar and geothermal will likely become more economical than coal and nuclear power due to “rates of change” in prices. Can you explain why this is?
Stewart Taggart: It’s called the ‘Learning Curve’ effect, or the compound price reductions caused by accumulated innovation and experience.As you can see from the top graphic below, all new technologies have a ‘learning curve’ in their early days and prices fall as innovation and economies of scale accrue.
All technologies enjoy a ‘learning curve’ effect in their early days. For coal, most of the learning is behind it, whereas for solar, it’s just beginning. For concentrating solar power, this is particularly the case. Prices halved during the 1980s, and are expected to halve again in the next 5-10 years.
SolarPowerBeginner: What specific advantages does Australia have that will allow it to become an “energy superpower”?
Stewart Taggart: Australia has world class resources in ‘direct normal radiation’ (the dark red areas) that are needed for generating concentrating solar power
SolarPowerBeginner: Do you see the utilization of photovoltaic technology expanding rapidly in Australia?
Stewart Taggart: Yes, but it’s more expensive at present than concentrating solar power. However, there is room for both. Solar PV on distributed basis (ie individual rooftops) and concentrating solar power in large centralised plants located in the Outback and connected to the cities by High-Voltage Direct Current Power lines.
Solar PV is falling rapidly in price, but from a higher base than other solar technologies
SolarPowerBeginner: What advantages exist for developing Australia’s various renewable energy resources at the same time?
Stewart Taggart: Gethermal and solar energy exists in many of the same places in Australia, and that’s ideal. By connecting up the Queensland and South Australian grids, a rapid rollout of both solar and geothermal capacity can occur. To learn more, read “When, Where and How”.
With Australia’s huge territory, it could potentially become a ‘clean energy superpower’ over time by developing these resources on a large scale. Were it to so, it could potentially, over time, generate surplus power it could export to Asia. To learn more, read “Connecting to Asia”.
For more information on solar power Australia check out the DESERTEC-Australia website.