Aurora Power Plant – thermal power plant in SA

The $650m Aurora Power Plant in South Australia is under threat as the US company Solar Reserve which will be responsible for building it haven’t raised the required funds. The solar thermal power plant was to generate 150MW of power and seemed in safe hands with Solar Reserve, who have previously constructed the 110MW Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project.

Aurora Power Plant – thermal power plant in SA

We’ve written about the Aurora solar thermal power plant before – they were able to receive DA in January this year and it appeared that everything was going well – but there appears to be a bit of trouble getting the final amount of funding over the line.

“Project funding is a lengthy process and we’ve made great progress having identified the necessary funding sources from commercial lenders and equity providers,” a spokesperson from Solar Reserve told 9NEWS.

At the same time, 9NEWS chased down energy minister Dan Van Holst Pellkaan for a statement – who subsequently advised that as far as the government is concerned, everything is copacetic: “What they’ve said is that as of yesterday, the project is still on track. They’ve certainly made it clear that they’re still seeking finance,” Mr Van Holst Pellkaan said.

SA Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan - Aurora Power Plant - thermal power plant in SA (source: https://www.danvhp.com.au/ )
SA Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan – Aurora Power Plant (source: https://www.danvhp.com.au/)

The project already has a 20 year PPA signed and a $110m loan from the federal government (contingent on them raising the other ~$540m) so it’s got most of the pieces of the puzzle in place. 9NEWS have reported that as of last month 60% of the necessary funds have been raised, but they’re still looking for someone to come on board and stump up a significant amount of cash (~$250m) so that the project can receive its loan from the federal government in addition to the other $540m and get this project off the ground.

Fingers crossed that we don’t see any significant delay and the world’s biggest single-tower solar thermal power plant is finished quickly!

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Solar thermal power station in Queensland planned.

Australian company CWP Renewables has proposed to build a 250MW, $1.3 billion solar thermal power station in Townsville. The station, similar to one already built in Nevada and one planned for South Australia, will be a huge economic and employment boon to the area. 

About the Solar Thermal Power Station

Solar Thermal Power Station Khi Solar One, South Africa
Solar Thermal Power Station Khi Solar One, South Africa (source: wikipedia.org)

We reported in August that South Australia will have a solar thermal power station installed in 2018 (Aurora, to be built by SolarReserve). Their station is slated to cost around $650 m so if CWP’s proposal goes ahead it will be the largest solar thermal structure in the country. Privately held SolarReserve was also responsible for the 110MW Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project in Nevada near Las Vegas. No word on CWP’s track record with solar thermal (or who they’ll choose to partner with for the tech), but they will be bidding against SolarReserve who told RenewEconomy they are also planning to develop up to six solar thermal facilities in Queensland over the next decade. 

“This Concentrated Solar Thermal project can deliver dispatchable, emissions-free power to North Queensland, together with thousands of high value jobs which utilise the existing skills of the North Queensland workforce, ” CWP Renewables managing director Alex Hewitt told the Townsville Bulletin yesterday.  Hewitt advised that the project is being called “Freedom Energy One” and will include solar + storage, noting that it could represent a cost effective and eco-friendly alternative to a new coal generator.

We reported yesterday that Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s Labor party’s “Powering Queensland’s Future” proposal will include a $50 million “down payment” for a solar thermal power plant in Queensland, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the money will go towards CWP’s plant – along with SolarReserve and CWP there are a few companies looking to tender for a plant right now. 

According to CWP, if approval was reached then project construction would commence in 2019. The two-year construction phase would result in the creation of more than 2,000 jobs – with employment for civil works, tracking mirror installation, thermal receiver tower installation, storage tank and piping creation, and the construction of a brand new electrical substation which would be used for the plant. 

It looks like there’s a pretty good chance Queensland will see the construction of a solar thermal power station at some point, and it’s just a matter of time! 

If you want to learn more about the tech please click here to read the Wikipedia article about concentrated solar thermal. 

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