Our heliostat technology will be used for concentrating solar thermal (CST) electricity generation in China.

The challenge

Meeting renewable energy targets

Our heliostat technology is being commercialised in China

China aims to produce 1.4 GW of CST by 2018, and 5 GW by 2020. This would double the world's installed CST plants.

The advantage of this system is it is a low cost way of storing thermal energy, giving CST technology great potential for medium to large-scale solar power, even when the sun isn't shining. A heliostat field can represent up to 40 per cent of the total plant cost so low cost, high precision heliostats are a crucial component.

Our response

Our technology makes its way to China

We have partnered with Chinese company Thermal Focus to license our low cost heliostat technology in China, with a shared revenue stream back to Australia to fund further climate mitigation research.

Our unique CST design features smaller than conventional heliostats, and uses an advanced control system to get high performance from a cost-effective design. The software optimises the configuration of the heliostats prior to construction and manages each heliostat to ensure the optimum amount of reflected heat is focused on the receiver, maximising the amount of power that can be produced.

Our solar thermal technology combined with China's manufacturing capability will help expedite and deliver solar thermal as an important source of renewable energy in China. It will also help commercialise this emerging technology on a larger scale.

The results

Creating cleaner energy at lower cost

Through our collaboration with Thermal Focus, we will be helping to generate cleaner energy, cost savings and export benefits for Australia; all lowering global greenhouse gas emissions.

CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall is proud of CSIRO Energy's solar thermal technology team and their innovative science for the contribution it is making to support Australia's mitigation R&D.

"Australia is a leader in clean energy technology and CSIRO's partnership with China's Thermal Focus takes our climate mitigation focus to a global stage," Dr Marshall said.

This is another great example of all four pillars of our Strategy 2020 in action; using excellent science to deliver breakthrough innovation, and through global collaboration, increasing renewable energy deliverables.

The licensing agreement with Thermal Focus follows our successful international solar thermal partnerships with Japan's Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems, and the Cyprus Institute and Heliostat SA in Australia.

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