Today’s opportunity in energy efficiency – Podcast now available

Download a podcast of a presentation by the Founder and Chief Technology Officer of BigBelly Solar, Jim Poss.

Jim Poss

The talk was hosted by the  Environment Institute and The Institute for Mineral and Energy Resources as part of The University of Adelaide’s Research Week on Friday 28th October.

We can’t afford to depend on cold fusion, safe nuclear or sustainable fuels to avert the worldwide catastrophe of climate change. Today’s opportunity is in energy efficiency. Economically and environmentally, energy efficiency opportunities represent most of the progress we will make in the next 1-2 decades. Careers in energy efficiency can help you do good and do well.

Solar Research Succeeds in Winning ARC Linkage

An investigation which aims to reduce the levelised cost of solar thermal energy by 40 per cent relative to present hybrids has successfully won an Australian Research Council Linkage Project application.

The Centre for Energy Technology (CET) Director Professor Gus Nathan heads up the successful application team which includes other Adelaide University staff Associate Professor Bassam Dally, Dr Zeyad Alwahabi, and RWTH Aachen University’s Prof Heinz Pitsch. The industry partner is Petratherm, parent company of Heliotherm.

Concentrated solar radiation in thermal power generation remains significantly more expensive than many alternative energy sources. One approach to reduce the cost of solar thermal energy is to combine it with established technologies using fossil fuels. Such ‘hybrid’ systems can typically halve the cost of solar thermal power. However, this is achieved at the expense of reducing solar contribution to around 5 per cent of total output.

This project supports the development of a new Australian renewable energy technology with a world-wide application through the first detailed investigation between concentrated solar radiation and a flame by the joint application of advanced laser diagnostics and modelling.

Not only does the novel approach offer cost reductions, it also trebles the proportion of renewable energy and provides full base-load capability. An immediate application includes the potential use by off-grid sites such as remote mines in Australia and globally.

CET is part of the Institute for Mineral and Energy Resources (IMER).


Oz-Energy-Analysis.Org Website Launched

Professor Barry Brook along with other colleagues including Dr. Francis Clark, have launched a website ‘’ as a way to examine the broad implications of increasing levels of renewable energy into the electricity grid.  The aim of the website is to examine renewable energy sources, predominantly wind and solar, and examine how their variability interacts with the grid – how it can be managed, how much power they can produce and how much it would cost.

The website will transparently present data, assumptions, models, analysis, interpretation and engage with a wide range of contributors by using an Open Science model.  The initial focus is on the state of South Australia, but the vision is to scale up this work and apply it to all of Australia, and even other countries.  The website will provide a mechanism for everyone to contribute with information and discussion to develop the overall view that is needed by policy makers and to aid sophisticated public discourse.

The website, as of today, is in ‘beta-2‘ release and can be viewed here

New CET Petratherm Funding

CET Petratherm funding makes a combined geothermal/solar energy power station closer to reality for SA.

A combined geothermal/solar energy power station for South Australia is a step closer to reality thanks to new funding from the State Government.

The project is being pioneered by Professor Gus Nathan, Director of the Centre for Energy Technology at the University of Adelaide, and by Heliotherm, a 100% owned subsidiary company of South Australian geothermal energy developer Petratherm Ltd.

The power station project will receive an extra $700,000 from the State Government’s Renewable Energy Fund.  This is in addition to almost $800,000 already committed to the project from the Premier’s Science and Research Fund.

In announcing new funding for renewable energy initiatives, South Australian Premier the Hon. Mike Rann said the geothermal/solar electricity generation project sought to “use the benefits of each energy source in a unique configuration designed to provide clean, reliable and cost-competitive power”.

“These latest projects are further practical examples of the Government’s commitment to build the State’s burgeoning reputation as a leader in renewable energy,” Mr Rann said.

“South Australia can be an international test bed for renewable energy innovation and policies.”

The overall cost of building the power station is $9.3 million over three years.  Petratherm plans to commit $3 million to the project, with the balance to be the subject of further funding applications to the Commonwealth.

“The project involves designing and developing an integrated solar, geothermal and combustion system to achieve high efficiency base load power generation,” Professor Nathan said.

“The key innovation is using an integrated boiler that exploits all of the energy sources in a way to reduce capital costs and achieve a critical breakthrough in cost and efficiency in solar thermal technology.

“This integrated solar/geothermal/combustion technology, when developed, is expected to have considerable local, national and international market potential.”