Louise Vickery of ARENA: the COP21 agreement a “game-changer” for all renewables.

The global COP21 agreement could be the impetus for investment in 
solar thermal energy in Australia, given the technology’s potential
 for energy storage as well as electricity generation.

ARENA general manager of projects Louise Vickery yesterday told the
 Australian Solar Thermal Research Initiative conference in Melbourne
 this week the COP21 agreement was a “game-changer” for all renewables, including
 solar thermal.

solar thermal Australia

“I do think we are getting to a point where you have got increasing
 levels of intermittent renewables and that starts to bring up
 questions like, if there was to be a reduction in the supply of energy
 from other sources, would CST start to have a strong value, because of
what it can bring in terms of storage?” she said.

The conference gave those in the solar thermal industry an opportunity 
to hear from researchers within ASTRI about progress on their

On the question of convincing investors to inject capital into solar
 thermal projects, Ms Vickery said the prospects were much better in
 the long term than the short term.

In the immediate future, she said
 declining demand for energy in Australia might be prohibitive to
 investment in renewables, but in the longer term, global commitment to 
the COP21 agreement could drive demand for renewables to balance the

“That’s the catch 22 for Australia,” she said.

“We have supply greater than demand at the moment, because we’ve had a 
situation where we’ve had a lot of demand curtailing off, [due to]
 reduction of the mining boom, the effectiveness to some extent of 
residential PV, but also the effectiveness of energy efficiency policy
 in the past and a restructuring of our economy.

“So that’s in terms of right here and now, but then you look out into
 the future.

 “What I also see is that with the commitment of the countries to the
new COP21 goals, you are going to have this growing demand by 
governments not only in Australia, but internationally, to increase 
their penetration of renewables.

“That means you are going to have an even greater demand for
 technologies that can bring inertia to the system, that can be 
dispatchable and that can offer storage.”

Ms Vickery said Australia also had two significant opportunities in
CST in the future; one for in using heat for mineral processing and 
another in producing solar fuels for export to countries like Japan
 and Korea that are looking to renewable generated fuels such as
ammonia and hydrogen.

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