The Ambassador had expressed interest in meeting Aalborg CSP to discuss to which extend Aalborg CSP A/S could take part in the transition of changing energy; a transition which the world is currently facing.
During the meeting all parties agreed that the solar energy potential in Australia is significant, and that it is a pity not to harvest all the energy, nature is releasing. Aalborg CSP emphasized their strong belief in a step-wise change of energy. A step-wise change of energy can be realized by creating hybrid energy power plants by refurbishing the existing coal and gas fired power plants. This can be done either by adding a CSP plant which provides steam into the existing systems, and/or by installation of large high temperature thermal energy storages. The thermal energy storages are capable of absorbing excess electricity peaks - typically from wind and solar PV farms - and store them as thermal energy. When a demand for electricity occurs, the stored thermal energy can be converted into electricity with the same efficiency as from fossil fuel and supplied to the same grid. In such cases it is important to keep in mind that the existing infrastructure and assets such as grid connections and steam turbines can be reused and as such, reduce the investment considerably. Over time, the plants can furthermore undergo a gradual transition towards using a larger share of renewable energy.
The general fear is that the phasing out coal plants will result in unemployment for many of those working within the coal, mining and handling industry. However, examples from the Danish wind industry as well as the Spanish solar-industry show that a transition towards renewable energy generates a lot more and much cleaner jobs. New businesses are emerging from local production of materials for the renewable energy systems. Moreover, as an extra benefit the renewable systems become a product which holds great potential for export, thereby increasing the chance of potential inflow of foreign currency.
Likewise, solutions can be made for existing industrial applications, which are currently operating on fossil fuel. By adding CSP solar plants to existing energy supply systems, both systems will operate simultaneously, however benefitting from harvesting the free fuel and still having the security of energy supply from the fossil fired asset or from the grid.
Off grid or fringe of a grid locations often face both high energy prices and an unstable energy supply. By adding a solar thermal plant with high temperature storage, the local society can obtain a stable energy delivery as well as a fixed price level. The solar installation will assist in stabilizing the grid and at the same time save infrastructure investments in bringing the energy to the society.
It was discussed why this change of energy is only seen sporadically. Aalborg CSP argued that seen from their point of view, the fact that a change from fossil fuel to green energy does not have a direct (financial) value for the society, is considered the main obstacle. If there is no financial benefit for people/private enterprises making the investments and taking the risk of renewable energy equipment, the change of energy is not likely to happen.