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Australia: Solar Energy

South Australian Government Awards 150 Megawatt Solar Thermal Project

| Editor: Alexander Stark

The first of its kind in Australia, the Aurora Solar Energy Project will utilise SolarReserve’s leading solar thermal technology with integrated molten salt energy storage.
The first of its kind in Australia, the Aurora Solar Energy Project will utilise SolarReserve’s leading solar thermal technology with integrated molten salt energy storage. (Source: Business Wire)

Solar Reserve has signed a long-term Generation Project Agreement (GPA) to build a 150 megawatt solar thermal power station with 8 hours of energy storage near the town of Port Augusta, South Australia. The Aurora Solar Energy Project near Port Augusta includes 1,100 megawatt-hours of energy storage in order to meet peak electricity requirements, day and night .

Adelaide/Australia — The GPA with the State Government of South Australia was signed at a ceremony with Jay Weatherill, Premier of South Australia, and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis. “The Aurora Solar Energy Project will also create new, advanced employment opportunities in regional South Australia,” said South Australia’s Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis. “We are using our energy plan to drive investment and jobs in this growing sector.”

Molten Salt Energy Storage

The first of its kind in Australia, the Aurora Solar Energy Project will utilise Solar Reserve’s leading solar thermal technology with integrated molten salt energy storage.

With 1,100 megawatt-hours of energy storage capability, Aurora will be the largest project of its kind in the world, designed to meet the South Australian Government’s annual electricity consumption.

The Generation Project Agreement is similar to a Power Purchase Agreement for renewable energy, except that emphasis is placed on the available capacity of the facility during peak demand periods rather than just the energy that can be delivered in kilowatt-hours. Aurora will deliver power into the National Electricity Market (NEM) at high value electricity periods, providing additional capacity, energy security and reliability services, as well as competition into the South Australian market.

“Solar Reserve’s energy storage technology is an excellent fit for the South Australian electricity system,” said Solar Reserve’s CEO Kevin Smith. “Aurora will provide much needed capacity and firm energy delivery into the South Australian market to reduce price volatility. Solar Reserve looks forward to continuing to work with the South Australian government and stakeholders, including the Port Augusta community where the project is located, to support Federal and State renewable energy targets, stimulate long-term economic development, and create new jobs and businesses.”

Economic Benefits for the Region

Because a solar thermal power station operates like a conventional coal or gas power station, many of the jobs require the same skill sets as conventional energy jobs — from its construction phase through to operations. For instance, 4,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs will be created during construction, with a significant portion of those created in South Australia, the company claims. Additionally, 650 full-time construction jobs are expected for a duration of 30 months. For operations and maintenance 50 full-time, permanent jobs will be required.

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The company announced that it will be establishing a research partnership with South Australian universities to advance solar thermal research and education in South Australia.

“The Aurora project brings the most advanced power generation technology to South Australia, supporting its energy security and carbon reduction objectives,” said Tom Georgis, Solar Reserve’s Senior Vice President of Development for Solar Reserve. “It also represents a significant opportunity for South Australian workers and businesses to participate in this exciting project.”

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