Solar Thermal will halve in cost by 2020 according to the new director of the CSIRO’s Australian Solar Thermal Research Initiative.

The CSIRO’s $87 million Australian Solar Thermal Research Initiative (ASTRI), which brings together the country’s top researchers in the field, aims to make solar thermal energy cheaper by developing new, more efficient technology and finding ways to reduce capital costs.

Dr Manuel J Blanco, who has began as ASTRI’s new director, said the research centre could cut the cost of solar thermal energy to 12 cents a kilowatt hour by 2020, down from 25 cents a kilowatt hour now.

Solar thermal energy uses the concentrated heat of the sun to create steam, which turns a turbine and creates a clean, renewable power source. However, it remains expensive compared to other forms of energy due to fossil fuel subsidies and the limited operator hours of solar thermal energy power plants.

“The situation right now is that even though this technology had its start in the United States in the 1990s, it wasn’t until 2005 there was been a commercial market for this technology,” he said.

“But this technology has a lot of potential and there is a lot of momentum right now.”

For the remainder of the article go to The Conversation.

The ConversationBy Sunanda Creagh, The Conversation and Charis Palmer, The Conversation