Networks back solar thermal energy

The PS10 and PS20 solar power plant near Seville, Spain
Europe's first commercial concentrating solar power tower plant was opened near Seville, Spain. The 11MW plant, known as the PS10 solar power tower, produces electricity with 624 large heliostats

South Australia will see a concentrated solar thermal generation demonstration plant by the end of the year.

Solastor Australia chairman John Hewson has announced the company would build a 1MW, grid connected, demonstration plant in Port Augusta as the first step in its $1.2 billion solar thermal project.

The Energy Networks Association (ENA) has welcomed the news, saying the Solastor demonstration plant could highlight the potential for “dispatchable” renewable energy to be provided by concentrated solar thermal technology.

“Australia is at the forefront of a global transition to high penetration renewable electricity and we will need new solutions to balance the ups and downs of intermittent output,” Mr Bradley said.

“It’s fantastic to see real progress being made in emerging solutions to support significant levels of renewable energy on the grid.”

Mr Bradley said Australia would rely on dispatchable generation sources to maintain the reliability and quality of power supply that customers value.

“Our future energy mix must rely on more intermittent generation from wind, solar and other renewables, so Australia will need dispatchable, low carbon energy sources to balance the power supply in real-time,” he said.

“There is a major technology competition underway to solve this long-term problem.”

Mr Bradley said the solutions to intermittent generation could lie in concentrated solar thermal technology, battery storage or other options that remove the carbon footprint of conventional generation, like renewable biogas, carbon capture and storage, or storing energy in gas networks through power-to-gas technology.

“Energy networks will be the adaptive platform enabling these new technologies to compete on their merits to supply customers with cleaner, reliable and affordable energy,” Mr Bradley said.