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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Solar thermal power plant for South Australia

Big news out of South Australia today as Port Augusta is going to get a $650m solar thermal power plant to supply all the power needs for the State Government. It is slated to commence construction in 2018 and will generate 150MW of power. This is a major boon for South Australian solar and the industry as a whole.

Port Augusta Solar thermal power plant.

The plant, which is going to be named ‘Aurora’, will be built by SolarReserve over a three year period. According to AdelaideNow, the standard output under regular conditions will be around 135MW – it will be viable to raise this in peak periods if there are favourable conditions.

SolarReserve have agreed to pay to construct the plant and the State Government have agreed to buy its power over a 20-year contract. RenewEconomy have reported that the government will pay a levelised price of ~$75/MWh, and ‘no more’ than $78/MWh. The project will be created thanks to a $110 million ‘concessional equity loan’ from the Federal Government to SolarReserve, and will be able to store between eight and 10 hours of energy to facilitate power supply even when the sun’s not shining.

According to the CEO of SolarReserve, Kevin Smith, the solar thermal power plant will comprise of approximately 12,000 mirrors, each the size of a billboard (around 100sqm), arranged in a circle over 600 hectares. Each of the 12,000 mirrors will focus light and heat to the top of a 227m tall tower to generate up to 150MW. “Aurora will provide much needed capacity and firm energy delivery into the South Australian market to reduce price volatility,” he said.

The ‘concentrated solar power technology’ will use the 12,000 mirrors (also known as heliostats) to send heat/light to a receiver at the top of the tower where moten salt stored there is heated to 565 degrees Celsius, generating steam to drive a single turbine. Since the project will include storage as well, it should result in a substantial reduction in wholesale price volatility, according to Smith.

The design is based on the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility at the Mojave Desert in Nevada, which has a gross capacity of 392MW and has a gigantic 170,000 mirrors (enough to power 140,000 Californian homes).

SolarReserve, based in Santa Monica, have already constructed a solar thermal power plant, with the 110MW Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project a success (although it was taken offline for ~8 months over 2016/17 due to a molten salt tank).

“We are supporting this nation-leading renewable energy project because it will deliver more competition into our energy market and put downward pressure on power prices for households and businesses,” Jay Weatherill, the premier of South Australia said.

Watch this space to learn more about the project!

Crescent Dunes Solar Thermal Power Plant
Crescent Dunes Solar Thermal Power Plant (source: wikipedia.org)

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