Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Solar thermal for South Australia? Solar Reserve says 6 power stations may be built


Originally published at nofibs.com.au

Solar Reserve has a plan to build a solar thermal power station with 8 hours molten salt storage at Port Augusta which would diversify South Australian electricity generation, bringing jobs and solar innovation to the state.

A report in the Adelaide Advertisor says that once the first power station is built with locked in long term contracts and finances, a further 5 solar thermal power stations of a similar size could be built across the north of the state. Leigh Creek, Woomera, Whyalla, and Roxby Downs have all been identified as possible sites. This would then amount to about 650MW capacity, as much as the expanded interconnector with Victoria.


The Aurora project at Port Augusta as envisaged by Solar Reserve will create 1,000 construction jobs and 4,000 flow on jobs, with up to 50 ongoing jobs in managing and maintenance of the power station. In response from a question, the CEO of Solar Reserve said that there is also potential to manufacture the heliostats (big mirrors) in the region. He estimated about 60 percent content used in the Port Augusta project may come from local suppliers.

Shadow Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellakaan attended and said that Solar thermal for Port Augusta will be in the Liberal party's state energy platform for South Australia, and that it's time to insert large-scale solar with storage into the energy mix. This is the political leadership we need for energy transition.

Port Augusta mayor Sam Johnson said that building a solar thermal power station would make the town a renewable energy capital.

If South Australia builds an array of solar thermal power stations, and together with abundant wind farm energy, they may provide an important energy export to Victoria and the National Electicity Market (NEM), placing further pressure on LaTrobe Valley coal generators.

“This is a relatively new technology, and the first of its kind in Australia,” said Kevin Smith, the CEO of SolarReserve in a phone interview with RenewEconomy from Port Augusta on Monday.

“We need to get to get manufacturing facilities in place to bring the costs down. So our key message is that governments (when choosing technologies) need to look at the entire picture – not just the price of power, but other benefits, such as jobs, zero emissions power, and the opportunity to roll out multiple projects.”

SolarReserve will be competing against Gas generators in a SA Government tender to buy 75 percent of its power needs from a new competitor to South Australia's energy market.

The storify of the meeting outlining the Solar Reserve project plans for Port Augusta.


Lead photo by Leigh Ewbank/twitter