Port Augusta solar thermal back on the agenda

Port Augusta solar thermal back on the agenda
SolarReserve’s Nevada (US) crescent dunes solar project

Little more than a month after Alinta decided against building a solar thermal plant in the South Australian city of Port Augusta, the concept is back on the agenda with a proposal from US company SolarReserve.

The venture-backed renewable energy company said it has entered the ACT Government’s reverse auction for solar energy and, if successful, could begin construction within 12 months.

Port Augusta Mayor Sam Johnson is a strong supporter of the project, but said it also needed encouragement from the state and federal governments.

“I’m quite favourable about getting support. The Member for Grey, Rowan Ramsey was actually in Nevada, US, just recently leading a full parliamentary delegation, and SolarReserve has a site in Nevada, so the first solar thermal plant built was actually one done by SolarReserve,” he said.

“This is going to attract some pretty significant technology. During construction phase it’s estimated to
be around about a $1 billion capital build project.

“That’s a significant amount of money and a significant amount of jobs. You’re talking upwards of 1000 people during the construction phase.”

In September, Alinta Energy – the US-owned gas and electricity retailer with its headquarters in Sydney – announced it had abandoned a feasibility study into replacing its coal-fired powered stations with a solar thermal plant.

It said the project at the old coal-fired Playford power station would only be feasible under improved energy market conditions and with more advanced solar thermal technology.