Beyond Zero Emissions has an article on the recent solar flagships announcement by the government, arguing the choice of technology and the combination with gas fired backup is a bad idea - Labor’s Solar Flagships: Smoke and Mirrors…and Coal Seam Gas. The ABC also has an interview with BZE Director Matthew Wright. From a purist point of view having energy storage (and no gas) is the right long term goal - whether or not solar towers are superior to the linear fresnel trough technology I'm not so sure of - but this plant is at least a large scale proving ground for the idea. Either way - in the longer term, the gas will run out and we'll have CSP infrastructure in place which can be extended and supplemented with storage - so its a step forward.
The Federal Government's choice of picking French state owned nuclear giant Areva to build a Solar plant based on out‐dated technology is a move that has surprised the climate and energy security think‐tank Beyond Zero Emissions. The proposed plant near the controversial coal seam gas fields at Chinchilla is a missed opportunity to build Australia’s first baseload solar plant.
“The rest of the world is seizing the opportunity to use low‐cost molten salt energy storage technology to build truly baseload solar thermal power plants” says Mark Ogge, renewable energy campaigner, Beyond Zero Emissions.
“Surprisingly the Gillard government has picked outdated and inferior linear technology with gas backup in a cynical attempt to justify destructive coal seam gas extraction on prime agricultural land in Queensland’s Darling Downs,” says Ogge.
“As people now realise that renewable energy can provide baseload power, the main excuse for coal seam gas extraction evaporates.”
“It is ironic that just as the Spanish unveil the Gemasolar power tower plant near Seville, that runs fifteen hours flat out into the night with molten salt energy storage, providing utility scale baseload solar power to the Spanish grid, the Australian government chooses inferior low efficiency linear Fresnel technology with completely unnecessary gas backup.”
“Spain now has seven baseload molten salt solar power plants up and running. The US is building a 1000 MW solar thermal plant with 6 hours storage, equivalent in size to a large coal fired power station. Solar gas hybrid technology is 30 years out of date, and linear Fresnel technology is far inferior to efficient high temperature power towers.”