The Weekend Australian - Review - - Clean Energy -

TWO ma­jor is­sues as­so­ci­ated with so­lar en­ergy are stor­age and trans­port. In­ter­mit­tency re­mains the fun­da­men­tal road block for the wider up­take of both so­lar and wind power — and Aus­tralia’s CSIRO is in the in­ter­na­tional fore­front of re­search to re­solve both prob­lems. In one project, the CSIRO is de­vel­op­ing tech­nol­ogy to com­bine so­lar en­ergy with nat­u­ral gas. This will cre­ate a prod­uct con­tain­ing 25 per cent so­lar en­ergy which can be stored and trans­ported. In an­other, the CSIRO is de­vel­op­ing small- scale so­lar ther­mal sys­tems suit­able for con­tribut­ing to the heat­ing, cool­ing and elec­tric­ity loads of build­ings such as shop­ping cen­tres.

The gov­ern­ment re­search agency is also de­vel­op­ing a bat­tery- based stor­age so­lu­tion for so­lar and wind power. When con­nected to so­lar pho­to­voltaic sys­tems, the bat­tery will en­able the en­ergy gen­er­ated to be con­sumed when needed. ■ THE magic num­ber for the so­lar in­dus­try is 1366. This is the av­er­age num­ber of watts per square me­tre of so­lar en­ergy reach­ing the Earth ev­ery hour. It is, so­lar ad­vo­cates say, enough to sat­isfy en­ergy de­mands of all hu­man­ity for a year.

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