Continuing our contrast of Aussie banks with better businesses to invest in, what did you think of Worley Parsons (ASX:WOR) big new Pilbara solar project announced yesterday? We thought it was pretty audacious.
Worley Parsons says it wants to build 34 250-megawatt power stations in Australia by 2020. Now that is real vision! The goal is to provide alternative power to industrial customers in WA, who are currently vulnerable to any disruptions from the natural terminal at Varanus.
Australia is the buckle on the global sun belt
Source: Worley Parsons
As you can see from the image above (taken from Worley’s presentation to investors on its plan) Australia is in the world’s “Sun Belt.” As we’ve said in this space before, getting more energy from sun is one of the key challenges of Peak Oil.
By the way, our technical analyst Gabriel Andre, who has studied energy and engineering (along with currencies and trading) tells us that the X axis is the longitude (in degrees West and in degrees East from Greenwich meridian, while the Y axis is the latitude (in degrees North and South from the Equator). For the data in colours, what you see is solar radiation per annum, in KW/H per M2, which is the total amount of beam radiation that you receive from the sun on a particular area.
One more note on this. Worley Parsons wants to use solar thermal technology, not solar panels. It’s a subject we’ve covered in the Australian Small Cap Investigator (although the best Aussie company at it is now doing business in America and is not publicly listed). It’s part of the “portfolio of energy experiments” we’ll need to produce energy in the future.
The trouble with silicon based photovoltaic panels is that there’s a limit to how much of the sun’s light they can convert into electricity. Experiments in thin film solar panels and in materials science (a kind of artificial photosynthesis that converts more light into energy) are designed to improve the efficiencies of photovoltaics. But progress is slow.
Solar thermal produces electricity, but uses sunlight to produce heat, which then produces electricity. Solar thermal concentrates the sun’s rays to superheat a fluid, which is then used to drive a turbine to produce electricity. The nice thing about it is that the superheated fluid can be stored, which means a solar thermal power station can operate at night, when the sun is not shining. It’s a great idea, and great to see Worley Parsons moving on it.
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