Concentrating solar power: commercial outlook and research opportunities
There is a very rapid transformation of the global energy system underway currently, with renewables rapidly becoming competitive with conventional generation in many regions. The next challenges can be identified to include energy storage, to facilitate the matching of electricity supply to demand, and addressing non-electricity energy requirements in transport, industry and water supply.
Concentrating solar power is a highly prospective technology because of its ready integration with low-cost thermal energy storage, and recently declining system costs, but the environment is now highly competitive. In this presentation, an overview of CSP technology and status will be presented, alongside some perspectives on currently relevant research topics, and highlights of current work at the Australian National University (ANU). Areas for future collaborations and student projects will be mentioned.
John Pye is a senior lecturer at the ANU, with a BE/BSc in mechanical engineering and mathematics from the University of Melbourne, and a PhD in mechanical engineering in concentrating solar-thermal energy from the University of New South Wales, in Sydney.
Since 2006 he has worked at ANU on developing technology for high-temperature solar-thermal systems and components, including the design, fabrication and testing of a 97%-efficient 550°C solar boiler, design of systems for solar gasification of biomass for fuel production, and the development of systems for large-scale thermal energy storage. He has been a core contributor in the Australian Solar Thermal Research Institute (ASTRI) and leads the System Modelling activity in that program.
Recently, as part of the ANU 'Grand Challenge' program he has been working on the development of processes for carbon-neutral iron and steel production, and he has developed and taught an ANU masters course "Industrial Energy Efficiency and Decarbonisation" at ANU. In 2019, he has held a three-month Visiting Scholar position at the Politecnico di Torino and has taught the CSP portion of the Polito course "Technology for Renewable Energy Sources".
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