The first large scale working demonstration of a solar energy storage system based on research undertaken at The Australian National University will be developed thanks to a $7 million grant from the Commonwealth Government.
The system uses ammonia-based thermochemical solar energy storage and is intended for use with ‘Big Dish’ solar concentrators. The prototype Big Dish, located on the ANU campus, is the world’s biggest dish solar concentrator, with an aperture area of 400m2.
The technology was developed by Dr Keith Lovegrove and colleagues at the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science, and is being commercialised by Canberra company Wizard Power.
Wizard Power has received the grant from the Australian Greenhouse Office to build a commercial scale demonstration of the storage system.
‘The ability to build in high capacity energy storage is one of the key competitive advantages for solar thermal,’ Dr Lovegrove said.
‘Because we are storing energy before generating electricity, we can deliver multi-megawatt base-load electricity and meet peak loads on-demand in the same way as coal, nuclear or gas fired power stations do. The efficiency of our storage system is also very high because we use a chemical process that has no extra energy losses regardless of how long the energy is stored,’ Dr Lovegrove said.