Due to fossil fuel subsidies and limited hours of solar thermal energy power plants, solar power is still quite expensive.
Top researchers at the Australian Solar Thermal Research Initiative (ASTRI), CSIRO’s $87 million research facility, is a gathering of the top Australian researchers in the field who have the collective goal to make solar thermal energy less expensive by developing more efficient technology while reducing capital costs.
ASTRI’s new director believes that by 2020 the research center might be able to cut the cost of solar thermal energy by 12 cents a kilowatt hour, considerably less than the current 25 cents a kilowatt hour.
The plan to achieve this goal involves cutting costs on the construction of solar plants and increasing the hours of plant operating hours by up to 50% in order to produce and sell more energy to the grid. This should, according to the director, reduce maintenance and operating costs while improving plant efficiencies.
Hurdles do exist. The Australian government is still somewhat reluctant to implement policies to create a market for medium-scale photovoltaic and CST solar power stations, making it difficult to find ways to reduce current costs.