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Ray lights up with sunshine

TOWER OF POWER: An artist’s impression of Ray, the 7m high light sculpture at Sydney’s Vivid Festival that the SCU Sunflower solar array will power until Monday.
TOWER OF POWER: An artist’s impression of Ray, the 7m high light sculpture at Sydney’s Vivid Festival that the SCU Sunflower solar array will power until Monday.

IT'S kind of spooky, but organisers of Sydney's Vivid Festival and IBM are tracking where people are going along the harbourside Light Walk sculpture exhibition and how long they spend at each site.

With Wi-Fi enabled devices (ie smartphones) IBM is able to detect which sites people are visiting and how long they stay.

And it seems that an inter-active light sculpture called Ray that is being powered by SCU's Sunflower solar array is proving to be the most popular destination.

With 232,000 visitors so far and an average stay of nine minutes, Ray and the Sunflower are a massive hit.

Dr Barry Hill is the co-ordinator of Contemporary Music at SCU and the creator of the Sunflower rig.

He said Ray has three hanging ropes that can be pulled like ringing a bell and that trigger sensors that light up parts of the 7m high sculpture. If three people work together, they can set off all the LED lights and an audio installation.

"It's like a video game in real life and the object is to get people to work together," he said.

The collaboration with SCU came after Pollinate Energy contacted Dr Hill because Sunflower is the only mobile solar rig in the country that could guarantee enough power for the entire Vivid Festival.

Dr Hill said they are collecting data about how much energy is being produced at the festival and because Pollinate Energy's main focus is on supplying small-scale solar lights to Indian slums, they are doing energy comparisons.

Dr Hill said as of yesterday morning they had produced 42 kilowatt hours of power, which would power about three Australian houses for one day or 2661 Indian slum houses.

"This is something that could potentially be toured around Australia with SCU students monitoring the data and being ambassadors for the project," he said.

 

Solar power

THE CSIRO has made what they are calling "a game-changer for the renewable energy industry".

They have used solar power to generate hot and pressurised 'supercritical' steam at temperatures that have only been achieved previously using fossil fuel sources

CSIRO's Energy Director, Dr Alex Wonhas said it was a major milestone.

"It's like breaking the sound barrier; this step change proves solar has the potential to compete with the peak performance capabilities of fossil fuel sources," Dr Wonhas said.

"This breakthrough demonstrates that the power plants of the future could instead be using the free, zero-emission energy of the sun to achieve the same result."

Supercritical solar steam is water pressurised at enormous force and heated using solar radiation.

Around 90% of Australia's electricity is generated using fossil fuel, but only a small number of power stations are based on the more advanced supercritical steam method.

The breakthrough was made at the CSIRO Energy Centre, Newcastle.

The centre is home to Australia's low emission and renewable energy research. The researchers use the centre's two solar thermal test plants that have more than 600 mirrors (heliostats) directed at two towers that house solar receivers and steam turbines.

Topics:  southern cross university, vivid sydney festival



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