The massive AUD $650 million installation will have a proposed output of 150 MW
In the past few years, Australia has made a huge turn to renewables, and 2016 was indeed a milestone for large-scale solar energy projects in the continent. Now, the state government of South Australia has revealed plans to construct the world's largest single-tower solar thermal power plant, just a month after the announcement of the historic agreement with Tesla to create the largest lithium-ion battery storage facility in the world.
The Aurora Solar Energy Project will be constructed and managed by SolaReserve â€“via a 20-year contract- at Port Augusta in SA. The AUD $650 million (US $512 million) plant will â€“under normal operating conditions- have a capacity of about 135 MW, reaching a maximum output of 150 MW in peak hours. The installation will be able to power an estimated 90,000 homes, generating 495 GWh of electricity per year (the equivalent to about 5% of SAâ€™s energy needs). Its construction will start in 2018 and it will become fully operational by 2020.
South Australia has been battling power problems since a statewide blackout in September 2016. â€œThis will make a difference in the South Australia energy market,â€ said South Australian senator Nick Xenophon. â€œIt will secure the grid and mean more baseload power than intermittent power.â€
The CSP technology
Like most concentrated solar power (CSP) plants, solar energy will be focused by arrays of heliostats onto a central tower where molten salt technology will be used to store the energy as heat so that electricity can be generated day or night (up to 8 hours of full load storage â€“ 1100 MWh).
This is another addition to ongoing CSP projects as by 2020, the huge "Noor" Solar Power Complex Ouarzazate in Morocco (consisting of four different plants in a single location), as well as Ashalim in Israel, featuring the world's tallest solar tower are expected to be connected in the grid.
Source: New Atlas
The proposed location for the power station in South Australia, approximately 30kms north of the town (Credit: SolarReserve)