CSIRO is building the world’s largest solar tower Brayton Cycle system at Australia’s National Solar Energy Centre. In 2010 construction began on a new solar thermal field, tower and research facility at CSIRO’s National Solar Energy Centre in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia.
Artist impression of the new solar tower Brayton Cycle demonstration field.
Image credit: CSIRO
The largest of its type in the world, the new field will utilise a solar Brayton Cycle system and will pave the way for solar power of the future – solar power that only requires the sun and air to create electricity.
Funded by a Commonwealth Government initiative – the Australian Solar Institute (ASI), this project is part of a A$5 million collaboration between the CSIRO Energy Transformed Flagship and the Australian National University (ANU)
Most solar thermal power stations require water to operate a steam turbine; CSIRO’s Solar Brayton technology does not need water. This technology is therefore suited to many parts of Australia, and the world, that receive minimal rainfall.
A field of over 450 mirrors (known as heliostats) will reflect the sun onto a 30 meter high solar tower which will power a 200kW turbine.
The system compresses air and then uses concentrated solar energy to heat this compressed air which then expands through a turbine to generate power. To overcome weather/sun variability the compressed air can also be heated by natural gas combustion.
Once built the field will cover an area of 4000 square metres and will be capable of operating at temperatures above 900 degrees Celsius. Although the facility will be used for researching solar technology, a field of this size could generate enough electricity to power nearly 100 homes.
This project will incorporate the option of a future solar thermal storage system that will allow extended operation during peak demand times in the evening and address the challenge of continuous operation from renewable energy sources.
Find how the Energy Transformed Flagship contributes to CSIRO solar energy research.