Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Lots of land needed for solar thermal power

The company behind one of the first major gas- solar thermal projects in Australia says the technology is largely based on farming the sun. ERM Power plans to build a 500 MW hybrid gas - solar thermal power plant in remote Australia by the end of next year. solar thermal power is produced by using mirrors to concentrate the sun onto troughs containing a solution which then becomes hot enough to generate steam to drive turbines.

Director of ERM Power, Phillip Saint Baker, says there's no getting away from the heavy land use component of solar thermal. "When you're talking about solar capture you're talking about m²," he says. "It's surface area driven technology, so for about 100 MWs of solar capture you need well over a thousand acres." "So you need to pick a site that's also compatible with that land use."