Dr Manuel J Blanco has joined CSIRO as Director of the Australian Solar Thermal Research Initiative (ASTRI).
ASTRI is an $87 million, eight-year international collaboration transforming the energy industry in Australia by bringing down the cost of solar thermal, a unique energy technology that can create electricity, heat and fuels.
Dr Blanco, a world-renowned solar scientist with almost three decades of academic, research and development managerial experience, comes to ASTRI from Spain’s National Renewable Energy Centre (CENER), where he was Director of the Solar Thermal Energy Department.
Dr Blanco helped in paving the way for the first commercial solar thermal system installed in Spain and chairing the International Energy Agency’s SolarPACES executive committee, the 20-country network for solar thermal collaboration.
“Australia has one of the best solar resources in the world. It is a natural fit for an international solar thermal research collaboration to use this resource and our expertise to make solar power the cheapest, cleanest energy source it can be,” said Dr Blanco.
“We will reduce the cost of solar thermal to just 12 cents a kilowatt hour by 2020 and provide zero-emission energy to people when they need it. It’s a technological leap but we will do it. We are working with the best in the world.”
Concentrating solar thermal power uses mirrors to focus sunshine to generate heat, which can be used to power a turbine to create electricity. Concentrating solar thermal technologies can also be used to drive chemical reactions to produce solar derived products, such as fuels.
CSIRO’s solar thermal tower in Newcastle, New South Wales is an example of a concentrating solar thermal technology.