Thirty years ago in Australia, there was a significant research, development and demonstration programme in solar industrial process heating (SIPH). This activity was led principally by the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation, the country’s main scientific research body. Other state government bodies also funded demonstration projects. Today, there is very little SIPH activity at any level in Australia. The contrast with the progress in other renewable energy technologies like wind and solar photovoltaic systems is striking. While the implementation of these technologies has progressed, SIPH has gone backwards. If Australia is to decarbonise its economy at the rate required, a massive deployment of solar thermal technology in those industries which use large quantities of low temperature hot water is also required. Recent developments nationally and internationally may rekindle new applications of solar thermal energy use by industry. This paper reviews the past achievements in SIPH in Australia and describes the lessons learned in order to better prepare for any new wave of SIPH activity.
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