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I applaud all efforts to encourage energy conservation and promote renewable energy. It is way past time to get the coal dust out of our hair and our brains.

One such recent commercial innovation is the Israeli construction of two new 121 Megawatt Molten Salt Energy Storage (MSES) power plants at Ashakim in the Negev Desert. These will be named the Megalim Solar Power Plants.

These plants will be built by Albengoa SA of Spain and funded by various local investors.

These plants use mirrors to melt salt inside a vertical pedestal at 660 Degrees Celsius. This molten salt is stored in heat insulated tanks through which run heat exchange pipes, heating water to make steam.

The steam then runs turbines to generate electricity – for 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. No batteries are needed. With sufficient storage tanks the plant can run at full load for two weeks without sunlight.

In addition the excess heat could be used to desalinate water from the Dead Sea and to extract valuable metals and minerals …

The Israelis have solved two problems at once - Energy Security and a chronic water shortage.

Australia should take note: We can rely on sun and wind more than we can control the rain – especially in a country that - according to our Bureau of Meterology, is about to enter a significant El Nino event which will bring severe drought to the entire East Coast of Australia.

Now is not the time to build more hydro dams - although we should increase storage capacity for our use and as flood control.

Molten Salt Energy Storage (MSES) is not new. The Weizmann Institute in Israel first started small pilot plants in the Negev Desert in 1967.

Erdi Australia has obtained a licence to build such a plant in Australia - but has found it very difficult to obtain finance because we don’t have any long-term energy policy.

The MSES plants are faster, cheaper to build than hydro dams, much less expensive than nuclear power plants. There is no possible radiation hazard, or any nuclear waste requiring disposal.

MSES plants are selling power at 6 cents/KWhr. This is competitive with even low cost Hydro Power in the USA.

In Washington State private utility companies sell electricity at the retail level for 6 cents/KWhr, at a profit.

I pay 27.90 cents at present and am very glad to have installed 12 x 250 Watt Solar Panels, plus a 24 x Evacuated Tube Solar Hot Water System. It is a pump free induction system, so I don’t need to worry about pump failure, electrical or audio noise.

The sun in Australia and our very high power costs make the MSES even more attractive.

Imagination is more powerful than Education said Albert Einstein.

If you want to innovate – you will have to learn to tolerate an increasing number of people who think you are crazy Albert Again.

Innovative, imaginative science can solve most of our problems, but we must not allow ourselves to be held back by the Candle and Kerosene people with coal dust in their hair.

Kerosene lamps replaced Candles –and Electricity was not just a rich man’s toy. It’s here and we need to maintain the supply.

Alex E Whiteside – Port Huon Tasmania

Alex Whiteside is a retired Industrial Chemist who has worked all over the world, and spent 6 years, just prior to retirement, in China as a Teaching Consultant for a large Chinese Paint Company.