Following the success of the world’s largest battery, South Australia is aiming to build the world’s largest thermal solar plant.
SolarReserve’s $650 million, 150 megawatt Aurora solar thermal plant has received state development approval.
Construction of the facility will begin this year.
South Australian acting energy minister Chris Picton called the project a welcome development for the state.
“It’s fantastic that SolarReserve has received development approval to move forward with this world-leading project that will deliver clean, dispatchable renewable energy to supply our electrified rail, hospitals and schools,” Mr Picton said
“South Australia is fast becoming a global centre for the development of renewable energy with storage, with a range of other projects set to come online over the next few years.”
Commenting on the latest approvals, SolarReserve chief executive Kevin Smith said it is a major milestone.
“It is a significant step in the development of the Aurora solar thermal power station, which will bring clean power generation technology to South Australia,” Mr Smith said.
The Clean Energy Council executive general manager Natalie Collard told Fairfax Media, “the price that the government will pay for power is remarkably low, considering solar thermal is a very young technology in Australia.
“The state has taken a series of positive steps towards greater energy independence which are really starting to pay off. And it has already met its target of 50 per cent renewable energy almost a decade early,” she said.
“South Australia is providing the rest of the country a glimpse of a renewable energy future. Our electricity system is rapidly moving towards one which will be smarter and cleaner, with a range of technologies providing high-tech, reliable, lower-cost power.”
The power plant will be able to generate 500-gigawatt hours of energy annually, providing power to around 90,000 homes, with eight hours of full load storage.
Once constructed, the facility will be the world’s largest single-tower solar thermal power plant.
It works by using multiple heliostats – which are in essence turning mirrors – to focus solar energy onto a single central tower.
This tower uses molten salt technology to store this heat, which it can later use to create steam to turn a turbine and generate electricity when needed.
The plant will displace the equivalent of 200,000 tonnes of CO2 annually.
AGL has a small 9.3-megawatt facility built to support its Liddell coal-fired power plant in NSW, although it is not a single-tower style of thermal solar plant.
South Australia drew international focus late last year when, in a partnership with Tesla, it installed the world’s largest single battery unit, capable of powering 30,000 homes.
The new plant will be located 30 kilometres north of Port Augusta, in South Australia.
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