Solar Power Generation

A media report is not always a definitive source of information, but. If this proves practical it could be a game changer for many industries, Just don’t get close to the focus point :wink:

edit: and closer to home it appears ‘Hollywood’ is doing well.


Great stuff.


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Solar seems good enough for Singapore as well as a probable profit spinner for the wealthy.

The government might do well to open its eyes and embrace the future, including the economic opportunities it is p***ing away to satiate its old school fossil fuel mob.


Our LNP Government will in years to come be remembered along side the Captain of the Titanic for ignoring the environment & plowing on at fool speed ahead [pun intneded]. Consequences are just as inevitable, only on a much larger scale for us.



This isn’t “solar power generation” as such, just getting the solar energy nicely concentrated in one spot in order to use it for direct heating. As the article says, other companies have already used similar setups for actual solar power generation e.g. concentrate sun to heat water and drive a steam turbine.


Archimedes reportedly used it to defend Syracuse against the Greeks. Myth Busters put it to the test, but were not up to Archimedes high standard.

It did demonstrate how critical and difficult it is to concentrate the reflected energy on a single point.

Proof of concept it improves on one step in the effective capture of the sun’s energy. Which opens up more methods for and uses of the captured energy.


Perhaps Mythbusters don’t quite have the resources of Bill Gates. :slight_smile:


It’s hardly a breakthrough to concentrate solar energy, back in the 70s I was using my telescope mirrors to focus sunlight and set paper or wood on fire in a few seconds.

The breakthrough may be AI to control the mirrors, although heliostats have had suitable mirror control for centuries.


While a single mirror in those times may have also been hard to produce with very few imperfections, but if the number of mirrors was increased to a much larger integrated mirror farm the level of concentration at a spot could be increased to a significant level. Something like how many radio telescopes are linked to produce a huge “virtual” single dish of immense size and thus accuracy, sensitivity and power.

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Such solar thermal energy farms have been around for 20 or more years. Overall there is something like 5 GW installed around the world. The exact technology for concentrating the energy of many smaller mirrors varies. My impression is that the approach is not as mature as voltaic power and the costs have yet to come down due to standardisation and mass production. It will be interesting to see if options such as heat storage allow for efficient power generation at night instead of using batteries or pumped hydro to align production with consumption.


Which may be the missing part of this solution if it is to be useful, other than as a direct source of heat energy.

All our current demonstrated processes for converting heat energy to electrical energy have poor conversion efficiency.


Not really an issue, as the “fuel” ie solar energy, is free. What is important is the cost per kWh.


Nor do I see a problem with using pumped hydro (we do it now with the Snowy scheme to some extent). Why does it need to be heat storage when kinetic energy storage is viable even now? We don’t need to reinvent the wheel to get power storage after dark or when the wind doesn’t blow.

Do we think somehow that the Billionaires sinking money into Solar farming here for Overseas power buyers don’t see some economic benefit from their development/s. If they can generate it here and send it thousands of kilometres to somewhere overseas (Singapore) that it somehow can’t be done for here seems ridiculous and ludicrous to me.


It would be interesting if this ever stacks up. The losses over 3500km+ (plus because it would be about 3500km in a straight line across Indonesia) sea cable would be enormous and even with DC, they would need substations through Indonesia to balance out/stabilise the flows between the NT and Singapore. Going through Indonesia (either over land or water) may have geopolitical and reliability risks.

I suspect that the backing from some of the billionaires may have other motives than actually developing the connection.

An far easier and cheaper option would be to have solar cell rafts or solar generation off the coast of Singapore.


Perhaps cloud cover in the area near Singapore is an effect they wish to avoid and so why they may seek other areas. Near Tennant Creek would ensure large amounts of Sunlight during daylight hours with very little cloud coverage during much of the year as would other Central Australian locations as @draughtrider can attest to in his locale. Tennant Creek is also on the rail line from Adelaide to Darwin and so supply of building materials etc can be easily hauled to the site/s from either Darwin or Adelaide. Alice Springs being a further 500-600 km away means slightly more losses in transmission and increases in building costs due to distance from the endpoints (Darwin & Singapore). Further up the NT it becomes more cloud covered and so a bit less attractive as AS or TC would be. HVDC has losses being quoted that come in at less than 3% per 1,000 kilometres compared to 12 to 25 % losses over the same distance for AC. Nor is the capacitance corrections that are required for AC needed in HVDC transmissions particularly in undersea cabling. DC does not also need the same corrections to hertz as AC systems do & can stabilize power fluctuations in intermittent power supplies

From 2014 an already commissioned roughly 2,400 kilometre HVDC power link built in Brazil

"ABB successfully commissioned the HVDC converter stations to the link and delivered the project to global company Abengoa in August 2014. The link brings electricity from two hydropower plants in the northwest of the country, which harbors about 70 percent of Brazil’s more than 100,000 megawatts (MW) of potential hydropower generation.

Apart from the two 3,150 MW HVDC converter stations, ABB also delivered an 800 MW HVDC back-to-back station that transmits power to the surrounding AC network in the northwest of Brazil. These are the fourth and fifth transmission links using HVDC technology delivered by ABB in Brazil, succeeding the two Itaipu links, delivered in 1984 and 1987, and the two interconnections between Brazil and Argentina, delivered in 1999 and 2002. "

From 2019 a 3,000 kilometre link in China using UHVDC is now operating:

"On Dec. 31, 2018, Changji-Guquan ± 1,100 kV UHV Project, the world’s first ±1,100 kV UHV DC transmission project, designed and constructed independently by China, successfully began full-voltage power transmission.

The Project was approved in December 2015 and construction began in January 2016. Starting from the Changji Converter Station in Xinjiang’s Changji Hui Autonomous Prefecture and finishing in the Guquan Converter Station in Xuancheng, Anhui, it passes through Gansu, Ningxia, Shaanxi, and Henan in the process with a total length of 3,293 kilometers, a rated voltage of ±1,100 kV and transmission capacity of 12 GW. It is currently the world’s largest and most technologically advanced transmission project with the highest voltage level, the largest transmission capacity, and the longest transmission distance.

±1,100 kV UHV DC transmission is the latest innovation in power sector in China. It adopts advanced high voltage, high current, low loss converting technology and equipment manufacturing technology which successfully enables improvement across the full range of DC voltage, AC voltage, and transmission capacity. For the first time, 10 GW level power transmission at a range of 3,000 to 5,000 kilometers becomes possible."


Yes it would be and this website indicates that cloud cover, haze or low sun conditions (assume sun low in sky) would make about 50% of daylight hours.

Even doubling generation capacity at the Singapore end to compensate would still make financial sense as the transmiision costs will make up significant proportion of total project costs.


Thinking further…

I thought maybe there is a reduced storage benefit of having generation in Australia. Storage is likely to be the same, if not more for Australia as Singapore is out of step as far as daylight goes and Australia is in the wrong direction to satisify afternoon peak demands (assuming that Singapore’s demand profile has changes like many developed nations to a late afternoon-early evening peak). This means that Australia may be in night up to a few hours before this peak occurs. Significant storage would be required in Australia to meet this peak as well as night demand…as well as for cloudy weather/outages/low generation periods.

While Singapore is land limited, it would be possible to have marine based or vertical storage systems on land. A local generation or generation to the west of Singapore would better meet any afternoon peak demand…and may reduce potential storage needs especially if generation is west of Singapore.

Solar cell rafts exist…
A limitation could be typhoons, but as rafts are mobile, they could be moved to a protected area or submerged to prevent potential damage.

There was talk of long distance DC lines in Australia with substations from memory every 1000km or so kilometre for voltage control. From memory these additional substations can help reduce losses and also be used for line isolation in the event that work on one cable/line is required…namely, in order to maintain supply. No transmission line is fail safe and expect n-1 design would be used…so as a minimum 2 sets of cables.

While Brazil may be willing to have a very long DC transmission line without substations, it also has alternative generation if the line faults…Singapore being land limited isn’t afforded the same opportunities. I suspect that Singapore won’t accept the same level of risk being a developed nation whereby their economic prosperity will be dependent on a reliable electricity supply.

The other factors is the area between northern Australia and Singapore is subject to significant tectonic (underwater volcanic) activity and requires the crossing of the Timor Trough which may pose problem for underground cable integrity. The cable would need to cross a highly active fault line.

I personally think it is one of those projects which sound great on paper, but may be different in reality.

I am pleased that wealthy business people are pouring money into the feasibility rather than the Australian taxpayer…as the return on their investment has a risk of never coming into fruition. It is also to try and see if the boundaries of engineering can be pushed.


Which respectfully is not zero. There is a cost to invest in the technology; to construct, operate and maintain the plant required; and depreciation as the plant ages. The capital costs are amortised across the life of the plant per kWh, and the operating costs added.

Australia has failed to make progress towards greater use of low carbon energy sources because of the high upfront cost of investment in low carbon alternatives. And arguably some very selfish politicians. Perhaps also swayed by alternate personal beliefs, or lack of fortitude.

The nation does need a genuine and effective strategy to get to zero carbon. Sorry ScoMo, a marketing campaign is not the same.

Reality includes accepting the substantial costs and investments required to achieve the aim of zero carbon. These costs need to be on the Commonwealth and national budget as a genuine and prioritised undertaking. And if it is going to be achieved consumers are going to need to pay more (taxation direct or indirect) or the budget needs to go into substantially more debt, IE deficit to get there.

This also assumes that the goals are achievable within the constraints of modern economic practices. We may need to break the system to be successful if all else fails?

Respectfully, being part of the Choice Community, complete facts are important.

The notion of ‘free’ is clever marketing and attention grabbing. Whether the train wreck awaiting our offspring, if global warming is not slowed and ultimately reversed excuses use of ‘free’ for this purpose? We all make individual moral judgements.

The harnessing of solar energy commercially comes at a cost. That includes the mining of resources and for now the processing of minerals using high carbon technology, even if most of this happens out of sight in air polluted China. The better moral solution would be to achieve Australia’s transition substantially through local processing and manufacture.

This requires much more than a simple ’free’ solution. Our drive for greater solar has seen it’s number one manufacturer profit and increase carbon emissions.

How good are we?


Not sure this is the case. Australia has invested, at a domestic and commercial level, significantly in renewable or low carbon energy generation. This is demonstrated by the recent, for about 10 minutes, about 50% of generation entering the electricity grid was renewable or low carbon energy. This change has been rapid over the last decade(s) and started from a very low position…where only main renewable energy was hydro. Now there are major hydro, biomass, wind and solar generators/contributors.


Yes, we have been very adept at putting solar on roof tops and adding wind and solar to the grid. It is still only a fraction of total annual electricity production.

Wind generation 7% and Solar PV 5% of total generation in 2018 and improving.

The immediate benefit has probably been environmental with the accelerated demise of some of the older more Carbon intensive power stations. Probably a greater short term benefit than the annual green power added to the grid.

The other approx two thirds of our carbon footprint has continued to trend upwards, without any clear direction or actions that are leading to a turn around.

That’s the failure and it is actually increasing at a greater rate than the reductions in the electricity sector are delivering.

True, in spite of, not because of?

Optimism is a powerful tool, when founded on solid ground. Presently it seems we are all balancing on one small stepping stone trying not to put our other foot down. There is nowhere to put the other foot and a great risk of falling off. It is good that some of us are adept at maintains the balance. Perhaps it will be enough.

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