Prime Minister’s visit

Now that we’ve had a few days to catch our breath after the official opening of Solar Field 2 on Saturday, I thought I’d take the chance to say a bit more about the event. For most of us the day started with an early morning glance out the window and a sigh of relief at the perfectly clear sky. As it turned out, we couldn’t have asked for a better day to demonstrate the solar field.

Despite the sunshine it was as cold a day as you’d expect this close to the winter solstice. Nonetheless, the Prime Minister and other special guests braved the elements (and the heights) to visit the top of the solar tower. As the PM commented afterwards, the view from the top is an interesting one for people in the energy industry. You can see a dramatic spectrum of technologies, from the coal loaders of Newcastle Harbour, to the Kooragang Island wind turbine and, of course, CSIRO’s own wind and solar facilities.

Once the tour had finished we started up the field and demonstrated it in action. Everything went like clockwork, and we were able to show how even on a midwinter’s day the solar receiver can be run at its design operating temperature. The conditions were so good for solar power that even after the VIPs departed, some of the engineers kept the field running to carry out more experiments. Why waste good weather?

Prime Minister Gillard in the heliostat field of Solar Field 2

Members of the CSIRO Solar Thermal team with Prime Minister Gillard in front of Solar Field 2

Member for Newcastle Sharon Grierson looks on with Prime Minister Gillard as the solar field is brought on-sun

You can read the Prime Minister’s press release about the event here.

After more images and videos? Click here for CSIRO multimedia relating to the tower and launch.

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