Last week ASTRI held a course in concentrating solar thermal (CST)

All ASTRI researchers are involved in advancing CST (concentrating solar thermal) systems, with most research projects highly focused in one part of the system. To enhance this research, the ASTRI program management committee had identified a need for young researchers to learn more about the context of their research.

Last week a two day course was run in Newcastle at the CSIRO Energy Centre. Students and research fellows came from the six ASTRI universities and CSIRO to participate in the course. Presenters also came from various ASTRI institutions, explaining their area of expertise to the group of over thirty ASTRI researchers. The topics covered included the fundamentals and industry perspective of CST, the technologies to concentrate and receive the solar radiation, storage, power blocks and solar chemistry. Everyone also got the chance to get close to the heliostats developed by CSIRO with a visit to the solar field, with some lucky participants getting to visit the tower.

It was a unique opportunity to hold a course of this size designed for CST researchers, with education and research in CST still in an emerging phase in Australia. Everyone came away feeling they had gained useful knowledge with a greater understanding of how their research can achieve ASTRI’s aims to reduce the costs of electricity produced with CST technologies. In addition, it was a great way to meet the people we are working with, as we put names to projects, faces to names and then real people (with interests, ideas and inspirations) to faces. It definitely felt that ASTRI had developed as a community during these days and I have no doubt that this will foster great collaborative research for ASTRI.

It was also a great opportunity for ARENA to see ASTRI’s impact in developing capacity in CST research, with one ARENA representative taking part in the two days of informative presentations on CST. Hopefully this is just the start of things to come, with ASTRI working to develop more education material and courses for Australian students and professionals interested in concentrating solar thermal systems.