It’s sunny and hot in Cloncurry, Australia, so much so that the Queensland government is planning construction of a $7 million solar thermal power station to provide the community of under 5000 with 24 hour a day electricity.
Anna Bligh, the Premier of Queensland, announced the town will be powered by a 10-megawatt plant using 8000 mirrors to reflect sunlight onto graphite blocks. Water will be pumped through the blocks creating steam which will power a turbine electricity generator. According to the news source the amount of water used to generate the steam is no more than the amount of rainfall the area receives in a year.
The plan will deliver about 30 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year, enough to provide electricity for the community 24 hours a day. If all goes as planned, the small town will be buzzing with electricity by 2010.
Cloncurry is the site of a former copper mine and boasts the warmest temperature ever recorded in Australia, that was in 1889 when it got up to 53.1(C) or 127(F) in the shade. Maybe their new electrical system will afford them some much needed cooling in those hot summers. Of course we here in Tucson, AZ have temperatures well over the 100’s during the summer, but we like to say it’s a “dry heat”. Good chamber of commerce material.
Cloncurry isn’t the only community sited for electricity where it’s otherwise too expensive to deliver by normal means. The government has approved the expenditure of $75 million toward a $420 million large-scale solar concentrator in Mildura, Victoria. And a solar updraft tower has been proposed for Buronga in Western New South Wales. The tower construction would resemble a large circular greenhouse-like structure that funnels hot air through a tall tower, that drives turbines which produce electricity.
Small solar dish power stations have been installed in remote indigenous townships around Australia, proving solar power is gaining ground in acceptance as a sustainable energy source.