Thursday, February 1

More heat than light in Australian alternative energy policy

update: I can now disclose the identity of the small Australian alternative energy startup relocating to Silicon Valley and being courted by major US VCs and internet companies: it's Solar Heat & Power. Paul Sheehan in a Sydney Morning Herald editorial reports that SH&P have announced their plans to relocate and reports the initial round of VC funding is AUD42m.

Don't be put off by SH&P's rather lame website - their solar technology is world-class. While Sydney's news this week is full of alarming reports that the government's nuclear power generation rollout will be unfeasibly slow and unpopular, and the Federal government insists nuclear is the only option without ever commissioning an inquiry into the feasibility of alternative energy generation, it's clear who really has the Prime Minister's ear - the mining industry which has made Australia the world's largest exporter of coal.

Meanwhile, SH&P, which has had a successful pilot of its solar concentration technology running attached to a coal-fired power station in Singleton, NSW since 2004, is in the process of relocating to California because it's been able to secure ongoing support from the Australian government and local investors.

Oh, my mistake, Federal industry minister Ian McFarlane says the government has been supporting SH&P - yeah, right... it supported the initial pilot to the grand total of AUD3.2M ;-) Right, a massive lot of difference that will make when upscaling to a commercial scale project - it would hardly cover the site landscaping costs!

One day Australia will be licensing SH&P's technology from the US company at great expense and I'll have absolutely no satisfaction in the massive "I told you so!" I'll get to exercise.

Good luck and bon voyage, SH&P, prove the bastards were wrong!

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