Australian solar hot water fuels sustainable USA

An Australian solar firm based in the US has claimed to one day solve the nation's energy crisis by utilising solar hot water technology.

An Australian solar firm based in the US has claimed to one day solve the nation's energy crisis by utilising solar hot water technology.

They say that by 2025 solar thermal power plants could generate enough electricity to meet almost all of America's energy needs.

The Ausra Incorporated solar thermal plant, located in the Nevada desert and founded by former Sydney University solar energy researcher, Dr David Mills, will this month host visits from Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and Victorian Premier John Brumby.

Solar thermal plants use fields of mirrors to convert the sun's rays into heat. The heat is then used to boil water and power steam turbines.

Dr Mills is one of the creators of the International Solar Cities concept. His Sydney laboratory developed the solar hot water technology that is used in 60 percent of solar arrays worldwide.

Dr Mills argues that breakthroughs in solar thermal research could spell the end for the USA's dependence on imported oil, gas, and coal, and dramatically lower its carbon footprint and impact on global warming by 40 percent.

"The U.S. could nearly eliminate [its] dependence on coal, oil and gas for electricity and transportation, drastically slashing global warming pollution without increasing costs for energy," Dr Mills said.

"This new study shows that our daily and annual energy needs closely match the energy production potential from solar thermal power plants with heat energy storage, and our models show solar thermal power will cost less than continuing to import oil," he said.

Solar thermal technology could become one of sun-drenched Australia's best answers to rising energy costs and preventing greenhouse emissions from coal-powered electricity. Thermal solar arrays have already been built onto traditional coal power plants to increase efficiency.

A spokesman for Premier Bligh said, "We have a chance to focus on what's happening there. We are going to a solar thermal investment forum [in the US] and there is considerable interest in America already."

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