Hewson’s enthusiasm for solar towers is welcome, but wild claims are not _ renew economy

John Hewson has been an amazing campaigner for renewable energy and strong climate action in this country – challenging politicians, bankers and industry to take climate action seriously and embrace the need for a dramatic energy transition.

His proposal for a major solar tower and storage power plant in Port Augusta is also welcome, and he is right to suggest that one day Australia’s energy system will not be powered by fossil fuels, but by a mixture of renewable energy such as wind, solar and hydro, with a major contribution from solar tower and storage.

Welcome too, is the apparent bi-partisan support Hewson managed to gather at the launch of the Solastor project in Adelaide. Static electricity how it works Environment minister Greg Hunt was there, so too was opposition spokesman Mark Butler, as were South Australian premier Jay Weatherill and climate change minister Ian Hunter.

All, apparently, were captured by the glowing promise of the Solastor technology – the world’s cheaper 24/7 solar power, eventually at 4c/kWh, cheaper than solar PV, and a plant ready to be built in Port Augusta by 2018, with no subsidies needed, not even an off take agreement.

But there is one major problem. Electricity jeopardy powerpoint It all sounds too good to be true. Gas in babies at night The claims and projections made by the SolaStor team stretch the point of credibility. Grade 6 science electricity multiple choice test Is it really possible to build a 170MW solar tower and storage project – with some 1,700 towers – in 2018 from scratch? And at the cost they claim, with the reliability they assert.

Truth is, we don’t know. Mp electricity bill payment jabalpur Solastor might have got their numbers down pat, this may well be the great breakthrough in solar technology – using huge lumps of graphite to store energy reflected from the sun – that the world has been waiting for.

But what raises the red flags is Solastor’s claims about the competition. Nyc electricity cost In their rush to promote themselves, over and above their apparent competitors, presumably including SolarReserve’s 110MW solar tower and storage plant, the Solastor people have made some claims that are simply not true.

Take, for instance, the claims about rival big solar towers being “bird killers”, that molten salt storage technology is a “fire risk”, and that it relies heavily on gas generation.

Such claims are plucked from the fossil fuel doubters of renewable energy and the press that support them. Gas after eating salad But both the SolarReserve 110MW facility in Nevada, and Gemasolar’s long running 20MW facility in Spain – the only two large scale operating solar tower and storage plants – disprove these claims.

They do not need gas, and they do not use gas back-up power; Gemasolar’s facility has turned into a bird sanctuary, not a killing field, and SolarReserve has proved its technology is not a “death-ray”; and when pressed Solastor couldn’t provide an example of a “fire risk.”

I asked Solastor’s executive director Steve Hollis, a former coal industry executive and former CEO of Snowy Hydro, and fellow executive director Philip Hall about these claims.

For goodness sake. Gas prices going up in michigan The last thing that the industry needs is the repetition of media myths. Electric utility companies charge customers for Solastor might have been better served comparing themselves with coal plants. Electricity transmission costs On their proposed numbers, they beat existing coal plants on cost as well, and thrash gas by some distance.

Solastor even repeated the fossil fuel talking point about “intermittent” solar and wind needing “like for like” back-up from fossil fuel generation, suggesting that this is not factored into the cost of wind and solar.

Again, this is a misrepresentation. Gas in back trapped In South Australia, wind and solar are providing nearly 50 per cent of demand without the need for any more “back-up” fossil fuel generation than was already built to “back up” and supplement “reliable” “base load” coal power. Gas leak east los angeles In fact, a lot of the back-up generation has been switched off.

“We’re trying to get this industry going, not trying to kill each other. Gas bijoux nolita It’s very disappointing,” said one person involved in the solar thermal industry.

Another said: “There is certainly a lot of nonsense in their documents. Electricity for dummies pdf A bit of a shame really as I do think the technology could have good potential.”

Of particular note was Solastor’s claimed capacity factor, producing 1.2 million megawatt hours from a plant running at 110MW in winter and 170MW in summer. Gas laws worksheet pdf That equates to a capacity factor of nearly 98 per cent.

“That is a bit silly,” said one expert, noting that not even “baseload plants” such as the most reliable nuclear and coal don’t run at more than 90 per cent. Z gas tecate telefono “Getting an actual 100% capacity factor would however be near impossible with any storage technology.”

And who needs baseload anyway? SolarReserve and Gemasolar’s technology is based on being “dispatchable”, which means an ability to provide power when needed by the grid operator, or by the customer.

In a modern renewable energy system, such as South Australia’s, when rooftop solar PV provides all of demand on some days within the next decade, that means filling in the gaps, not providing baseload.

“The market doesn’t need baseload and it (baseload) doesn’t provide the best return on investment. A system configured as a medium/peaker targeting evening loads is most valuable. Electricity cost per kwh by country Salt systems can as easily be built with 15 hours storage for baseload also if that is wanted.”

Solastor’s claims on costs also raised some eyebrows. Electricity problem in up It claims “molten salt” costs $180/MWh. Electricity bill bihar electricity board The molten salt storage people have already suggested their technology is well below $150/MWh. 9gag instagram Solar PV is likely to be significantly below $370/MWh even when paired with battery storage.

So how does Solastor get to 4c/kWh? Hollis says it’s because the company’s heliostats are about 50 per cent more efficient than its rivals. Electricity symbols ks2 That means significantly lower capital costs. Gas yourself in car That means lower cost per kWh. Electricity storage costs He was absolutely certain that his numbers are right.

Let’s hope so too. K gas station The last thing that the industry needs right now is for silly claims to be made that can only lead to disappointment. Gas konigsforst That would send the whole industry backwards.

Keith Lovegrove, a solar thermal expert at ITPower, said his experience with energy technologies in general and CST in particular is that system scale-ups with size increases by factors of 10 at each step are the sensible path.

“If Solastor can build and prove the 1MW pilot system in Australia then they could move forward from there. Current electricity examples Talk of power stations in the 100’s of MW takes some years to develop,” he noted, adding that private sector finance needed for utility-scale systems looks to see that a technology has been proven and ‘derisked’ at a smaller scale before investing.

“Solastor have a great technology idea with strong potential, but they will need to avoid the trap of over-selling in the early stages that many others have fallen into,” Lovegrove said. Electricity shock in the body “They should also be careful about making unduly negative claims about the incumbent molten salt approach, which is actually extremely effective.” Others in the industry made similar points.

Oliver Yates, the CEO of the Clean Enegy Finance Corporation, said he was a supporter of solar thermal technologies, and was keen to see technology costs move down the curve. Electricity and magnetism physics definition He noted nearly every player in the market had been to see him or his team.

Yates would not comment on Solastor’s claims, other than to say – in reference to the recent cost curve fall in solar PV in particular: “One things I’ve learned is not to have a closed mind.”

So, if the CEFC does throw some money into the ring, and if there is, as Hewson suggests, a bank willing to fund the entire project, let’s hope they are doing some due diligence.

We don’t need any more failures like we had in the Solar Flagships disaster and the other “favoured” projects from the government-selected grant-making that characterised the failed wave power, Whyalla “solar dish” and geothermal projects. Gas estimator The future is more important than that.

I concur with your analysis Giles; this is clearly an exaggerated sales pitch. Power outage houston reliant In particular the claim of 98% CF, when they claim the graphite can only stay hot enough for up to a week. Static electricity zapper Solar Reserve claims 40% cf when the salt tanks only lose 1 degree a day. Electricity outage sacramento Also the $180/ MWh for SR’s MS is much overstated; they have a PPA with a Nevada utility for $130/ MWh.

Using the SEN SIREN software, I modeled 6400 MWh of CST with 10 hours storage, in WA. Electricity production by source Remember this is 10 hours at maximum generation capacity. Igas energy shares Therefore it will store more energy than is generated even on a summers day.

But even with this amount of generation there were 80 nights during the year when the stored energy was not sufficient and up to 100% of the energy would have to come form other sources (fuelled generation). Physical science electricity review worksheet The reason is that in the previous day (s) there was little or no generation. Electricity projects ks2 In some cases all of the 16 arid locations modelled were clouded over, and unlike PV, CST does not generate at all under cloud.

Although SIREN does not model the graphite technology, the same would hold true for any CST as it is all basically mirrors focusing on a heat containing material.

So 80 nights and some days of insufficient to zero generation over a whole dispersed grid is over a year is nowhere near 98% capacity factor. Electricity experiments for 4th graders In fact when CST is the only renewable energy source for a grid, there will have to be fast response OCGT gas turbine capacity sufficient to cover all of the load on some nights (in this case about 2500 MW).