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Media Release
The Hon Dr Sharman Stone
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Murray

14 August 2001

Pyramid Hill sun saves greenhouse


An innovative project at Pyramid Hill in Northern Victoria is producing power, cutting salinity and making salt to sell to consumers, thanks to a $550,000 grant from the Federal Government.

Officially opening the Solar Ponds project at Pyramid Hill today, Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment and Heritage and Federal Member for Murray, Dr Sharman Stone said the project was an excellent example of Australian innovation at its best.

"The Solar Ponds system is an innovative and cost-effective means of generating heat energy from a renewable source," Sharman Stone said.

"The project is using a 3000 square metre solar pond to generate and store heat at up to 80C and then using that heat for commercial salt production.

The commercialised solar pond technology has strong prospects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fuel costs in a range of rural and regional industries requiring heat such as dairy food production, drying fruit and grains, and aquaculture.

"Solar Ponds can produce process heat for a wide variety of applications at around two thirds the cost of liquid petroleum gas or fuel oil in rural areas".

"As the Federal Member for Murray I am particularly impressed that farmers adjacent to salinity mitigation schemes incorporating solar ponds may be able to bring back into productive use land that is now badly salt affected", Sharman Stone said.

The Solar Ponds project is a joint initiative of RMIT University, GEO-Eng Australia and Pyramid Salt which was made possible via a $550,000 Australian Greenhouse Office grant through the Renewable Energy Commercialisation Program.

"The Federal Government is committed to reducing the problems caused by salinity and declining water quality and to developing Australia's capacity in renewable energy".

"The National Action Plan on Salinity and Water Quality is targeting this region as one of its priority areas, the Natural Heritage Trust has invested over $37 million in the Murray electorate and the Australian Greenhouse Office is working hard with our local councils, businesses and the community".

Renewable energy is a key component of the Commonwealth's climate change policy and $380 million has been spent over 5 years to strengthen the capacity of Australia's renewable energy industry and to improve the uptake of renewable energy systems.

The Solar Pond installation at Pyramid Hill is expected to deliver greenhouse savings of 1000 tonnes per annum by replacing the electricity used for salt production.

"With each household in Pyramid Hill emitting an average of 16 tonnes of greenhouse gases annually, the Solar Pond project is making a huge contribution to the climate change effort in Northern Victoria", Sharman Stone said.

Pictures of the launch will be available later today at:
www.greenhouse.gov.au/media/pictorial/renewable/index.html

For further information contact:
Simon Frost 0419 495 468
August 14th, 2001

Commonwealth of Australia