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Building Australia’s largest solar thermal research hub

We designed and built Australia’s largest solar thermal research facility which consists of a 30 metre high solar tower (the tallest in Australia) and a 4000 square metre field of 450 heliostats.

The challenge

Making solar thermal more competitive

To demonstrate the true potential and competitiveness of solar thermal technology, we needed a demonstration facility which could deal with some of the highest temperatures in solar energy in the world, and prove the technology at a pilot scale.

Our response

Creating a first of kind solar research facility

This facility, built in 2010, was the first of its kind in Australia and is the most adaptable, dynamic solar research facility in the world. We have been using it to develop and test one of the world’s most powerful solar air turbines to generate electricity from air and sunshine alone. We are now at the cutting edge of solar research, creating materials and processes that deal with some of the highest temperatures in solar energy research in the world.

The results

An international hub for concentrated solar technology

The facility is an international hub for researching and commercialising concentrated solar energy technology – already attracting international collaborators. In 2014 this facility assisted us in achieving a world record. We generated at a pressure of 23.5 megapascals (a measure of force per unit area), and temperatures up to 570 degrees Celsius. It is the combination of pressure and temperature demonstrated at scale that made this a breakthrough for solar power.