Just as the Internet has revolutionised parts of the ‘old economy’ such as print media and shopping habits, the next major shift in the economy is likely to be in energy production, the ownership of the means of energy generation and dominance of renewable energy in South Australia. The major power producing corporations are likely to be scrambling to hold their existing market share as next generation renewable energy sources, most likely dominated by solar power and solar technology becomes a force to be reckoned with – not just as an adjunct to conventional gas and coal fired electricity generation but as a mainstream source of power production as solar technologies evolve to a point where they supply ‘base load’ power and the perception of solar as being an ‘intermittent’ power source fade with the advent of solar energy storage technologies in particular.

As South Australian have demonstrated, by leading the nation in the uptake of roof top solar panels technology and generating more than 20 percent of S.A.’s power from renewable energy sources – solar panels have proven to be far more than a fad and the emergence of the technology into a ‘mainstream’ energy source, of commercial electricity generation size is now a reality. 

Solar Thermal Solves Energy Storage Issues For Solar Technologies

The U.S. has been actively looking to move away from fossil fueled electricity generation and the Obama Administration has been a keen supporter and influencer in the development of solar technologies . The latest solar power technologies use salt (sodium chloride) as a novel method of storing solar power so it can be used during the night-time and other periods when the power is required by the grid. By using solar energy to heat the salt to temperatures exceeding 500 degrees C and then storing that heated salt in highly insulated vessels, the heat can be released at a later time (when electrical generation is required) and used to heat water, to produce steam, which in turn drives an electric turbine.

solar thermal power plant

The Ivanpah solar thermal project pictured above, in California has the potential to generate a massive 300 Mega watts of energy. This is equivalent to the power produced 300,000 homes fitted with a 3 Kilo watt solar panels system!

Next Generation Solar Power Attracts Investors Large and Small

It is interesting to note that companies like Google have invested in these next generation solar technologies, which is probably a good indication of the viability and economic feasibility of these technologies. 

As investors at small and large scale look to invest in next generation renewable energy technologies, the large power companies stand a real risk of being side lined as clean energy production becomes not only more favorable on environmental grounds, but can reach price parity with fossil fueled power generation within the next decade. Community solar projects are springing up around Australia. These projects allow individuals to participate in medium sized solar farms which not only offer small ‘mum and dad’ investors a reasonable return on their investment, but also add significant amounts of renewable energy generated electricity back onto the power grid, further reducing reliance on the ‘traditional’ suppliers of electricity.