Solar system

Australian, Chinese and US researchers have joined forces to develop a new type of affordable solar-power technology.

Scientists from the Australian National University (ANU), a Silicon Valley company with strong Australian connections called Chromasun and Tianjin University in China are to join forces to create roof-mounted solar trough concentrator systems that are more cost-effective and efficient than previous models.

The Australian arm of the collaboration is being funded with $1.8m by the Australian government as part of the Asia Pacific Partnership (APP) on Clean Development and Climate.

The Australian contribution will be led by Prof Andrew Blakers and Dr Vernie Everett from the Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems (CSES) at ANU.

‘Solar concentrator troughs are like long, curved mirrors that focus the sun’s rays onto photovoltaic cells, which then produce solar electricity and solar hot water,’ said Prof Blakers.

‘Traditionally, these kinds of systems have been built with expensive, specialist concentrator cells. We’ll be modifying and upgrading commercially available non-concentrator solar cells, which should result in major savings.’

The researchers will also be developing more efficient techniques to reduce the influence of moving shadows, which have the potential to eat into the amount of energy being generated.

The joint project will involve extended exchanges of staff and research students between Tianjin University, Chromasun and ANU.

The project will develop solar trough concentrator systems such as this one on the ANU campus