Australian Town Expects to Go Fully Solar in 2 Years
Already the proud record holder for having Australia's hottest day - 53°C in 1889 (in the shade, to boot) - Cloncurry is vying to become one of the first towns to be fully powered by solar energy in 2 years. The Queensland state government plans on building a 10-MW solar thermal power station that will derive its energy from heat stored in Cloncurry's ubiquitous graphite blocks.
Eight thousand mirrors will be set up as part of the station to reflect sunlight onto the blocks - whose heat will then generate steam from the water pumped through. The steam will be harnessed to produce electricity via turbines. Graphite's superior ability to store heat for lengthy periods of time will enable the production of electricity even after the sun goes down. The government estimates the station will be able to deliver close to 30 million kW hours of electricity per year when it starts operating in early 2010, which should be enough to supply the entire town. Granted, the town's small size certainly takes some of the edge off this ambitious statement; it is still, however, a laudable achievement (assuming it reaches completion) and hopefully only the beginning of what solar thermal power will accomplish.
Via ::Reuters: Australian town to run on solar power in 2 years (news website)